UF WOMEN"S SPORTS
Debut for coach, Gators this year
Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2003 at 10:28 p.m.
Women's swimming and diving
But one trend the Gators want to break in their first season under coach Rhonda Faehn is the trademark low scores to start the year.
"We wanted to have them prepared and to make a statement right from the start," said Faehn, who makes her collegiate head coaching debut in today's Super Six Challenge in Athens, Ga. "Obviously we're not going to be at the very best right now because it's a long season. There's no way we'd be able to peak when we need to at nationals if we were at our best right now, but we still want to come out very strong and have a great competition from the start."
Florida's best season-opening score was 194.425 in the 2001 Super Six Challenge.
Even in 1998, when the Gators had their program-best second-place finish at the NCAA Championships, they failed to pass the 196 mark until midway through the season. They averaged 194.56 in their first five meets and opened the season with their first dual-meet loss to Kentucky with a 192.250 total.
Florida has reason to believe, however, it will score high in today's meet based on last month's exhibition meet, when the team totaled 195.80.
"Sometimes it can really be a downer. It can be really hard to come up after having a slow start," senior Lindsey Miner said. "Hopefully this weekend will show that we will be contenders for the SEC Championships and for NCAAs. We're going up against some of the top teams right now and it's a good test for us."
Part of the reason for the high projected scores is that the gymnasts have increased their difficulty on their routines in the preseason.
"Everyone probably has at least one new skill in their routines this year," Miner said. "The difficulty has increased and you can see that on every event. And not only the difficulty (has increased) but the consistency as well, and that's key in college gymnastics."
While Faehn said competition to get in the event lineup has been tough, some of the Gators' top new gymnasts will be restricted on certain events or not compete at all.
Three-year U.S. National Team member Amanda Stroud, also recovering from a shoulder injury, is restricted to vault and floor exercise.
Two-time All-American Alecia Ingram, who transferred from Nebraska during the summer, will be held out of today's meet, as she still is recovering from shoulder surgery she underwent prior to last season.
Faehn said Ingram is close to competing in three events, but the coach is cautious about rushing the recovery time.
"We don't want to push her because we need her for the long haul and it takes a long time to come back from the type of injury that she's had," Faehn said. "So it's better to play it safe in the beginning with her."
Doris Yon can be reached at (352) 374-5052 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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