Points tough to find
Published: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 11:52 p.m.
It's been a slightly disappointing start for Florida's gymnasts this season. They've admittedly made mistakes, counted some falls and suffered defeats.
But don't think the Gators, who are learning to perfect more difficult routines this season, are getting frustrated.
"We've had some high notes and low notes," sophomore Samantha Lutz said. "But we try not to let it get to us. We understand that mistakes can happen and we've been working really hard in practice to correct them."
Tenth-ranked Florida hopes to show that progress tonight when it hosts No. 19 Nebraska at 7 in the O'Connell Center. The Gators scores have been low by their standards through two meets this season. Florida scored a 194.450 in the Super Six Challenge Jan. 7 and scored a 195.550 last Friday at LSU, losing by just .075 to the Tigers.
The reason is an array of tougher routines installed by coach Rhonda Faehn for this season. The routines can result in higher scores when done to perfection - something the Gators hope will begin happening as the season wears on.
"We obviously want to peak for the SECs and nationals," Lutz said. "We'll just keep improving."
The routines Florida is using right now are certainly high risk, high reward. But there haven't been many rewards as of yet.
Florida was forced to count three falls (two on floor, one on bars) at the Super Six Challenge and another on bars at LSU. The four counted falls are more than Florida had in each of the last two seasons.
But Faehn knows as this season progresses, Florida will begin perfecting its routines. And with that, the Gators' scores should soar.
"You have to have a high degree of difficulty and perform it almost perfect," Faehn said.
It has taken Faehn a little over two seasons to finally feel comfortable enough to take this step. The Gators have broken the team scoring record three times since Faehn arrived in Gainesville. But the last two years have been more about consistency than difficulty.
Now that the team has more depth and experience, Faehn felt it was time to increase the difficulty of routines with the hopes of separating the Gators from other comparable national title contenders by season's end.
"Last year was a step up," Faehn said. "We had so many new athletes we had to be consistent. This is a growing process. It's not there yet, but we feel that this year is going to be better than last."
You can reach Brandon Zimmerman by calling 374-5051 or at email@example.com.
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