Gator gymnasts roll over Crimson Tide


The Gator Gymnastic team competes on floor exercises in front of 3,947 fans at the O'Connell Center Friday.

Photo By By KRISTEN ECKHARDT
Published: Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 7:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 7:56 p.m.

The No. 5 University of Florida gymnastics team defeated No. 4 Alabama, 196.550- 196.350, Friday at home in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in front of a crowd of 3,947.

The Gators went into their final rotation on floor exercises trailing Alabama by 0.15 points. Sophomore Savannah Evans came through for the Gators and turned in a 9.95, a personal best, to help clinch a victory and the individual floor title.

Sophomores Samantha Lutz and Breanne King both added scores of 9.90 to the team total for the floor exercises.

King also claimed second place in the all-around competition with 39.250 and freshman Tiffany Murry took the individual vault title with a 9.950.

"I love performing floor, it's one of my favorite things to do especially with the crowd," said Lutz. "I love to play to the crowd, so it's just exciting for me to get out there and be able to do that for them."

Alabama's Ashley Miles, the reigning 2004 NCAA title holder for both vault and floor scored a 9.95 on floor and a 9.90 on vault. Miles also won the all-around competition with 39.350.

Terin Humphrey turned in a 9.925 on both bars and beam to place first in both events.

UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn said that she is aware of what defeating a rival like Alabama means to the team's reputation.

The Gators also edged out the Crimson Tide at the Super Six Challenge on Jan. 7.

"I think its [the win] is definitely sending a message to the rest of the country and also to all the other teams as well, that Florida really deserves to be in the top in the country and that we're consistently doing it time and time again," Faehn said. "Obviously it's just a wonderful feeling to be able to beat Alabama for the second time this year and an even better feeling is knowing that we did that and didn't perform near to our potential."

The capability of the Florida team was showcased at the meet, said Faehn, however there is still work to be done and improvements that could be made.

"I spoke with them after the meet was over, congratulated them heavily for their win and told them they did an unbelievable job, yet there were certain areas that we needed to improve upon if we wanted to win SECs and NCAAs," Faehn said. "It's not going to be this type of performance that's going to win. They all know that and they were all very focused and know that they can still do better."

Up next the Gators will go on the road to face No. 6 Georgia on Feb. 4. The Georgia GymDogs beat the Gators in their first match-up this season at the Super Six Challenge.

"I'm really looking forward to it and I'm really excited because this year we're going into Georgia with a stronger team and a more aggressive team," Faehn said. "It's a team that, I think, is a little bit more prepared this time in the year than we were this past year."

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