Szmuch shows way for Florida


Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 11:49 p.m.

On an off night, the Florida gymnastics team still had enough to win Friday.

Even though the No. 7 Gators had season lows on the balance beam and floor exercise, they easily outdistanced themselves from the other schools with a score of 195.925 to win the quad meet. No. 17 Minnesota was second with a 193.450 total and No. 23 Kentucky followed at 192.200. Bowling Green was last with a 189.200 total.

"The mistakes that were made were on new things," first-year UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. "That's OK because you have to take that risk early on in the season so that you're able to get your confidence on those new skills throughout the rest of the season."

Florida changed the lineup and added some new skills to its beam (48.90) and floor routines (48.950), which would account for the lower scores.

Alecia Ingram and Kelly Hesbeens made their competitive debut on the beam and floor, respectively, and some of the other gymnasts added new elements to their routines.

"I think they were a little tight," Faehn said. "I would say they held back a little and were a little nervous ... because we were doing some different skills. If there was a mistake made, the tendency is for everyone to get a little bit anxious rather than just relaxing."

With the win in front of 2,289 at the O'Connell Center, Florida improves to 7-2 overall and 2-0 in the SEC.

The Gators swept the top three spots in the all-around and was led by sophomore Orley Szmuch. She matched a career-best to win the all-around with a 39.50 total. She also shared the uneven bars (9.925) and floor exercise (9.90) titles, but she thought she could perform better.

"It's fine for our third meet," said Szmuch, who is dealing with a bruise in her right heel. "I still have a long way to go, but overall, I'm OK with it. I still would like to get better."

Lindsey Miner, who shared the balance beam and floor titles, was second with a 39.40 all-around total, and Kara Waterhouse was third with a 38.70 score.

Florida began strong on their first two events, particularly on bars.

The Gators matched their season best on the bars with a 49.375. The lowest score they had to count toward the event was a 9.825.

"We've always had the potential to be a really great team on bars," Erin Pendleton said. "I think this year with the confidence that has been instilled in us, we're really showing it."

Doris Yon can be reached at (352) 374-5052 or yond@gvillesun.com.

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