UF gymnastics wins 16th straight over Hogs

Published: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 11:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 11:40 p.m.

The domination continues.

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Florida gymnast Corey Hartung competes on the uneven bars at the O'Connell Center on Friday night in Gainesville. Hartung won the all-around competition with a score of 39.475. It was her second all-around win of the season.

JARRETT BAKER/Special to The Sun

Coming into their matchup against No. 9 Arkansas, the No. 3 Gators had gotten the best of the Gym’Backs, going undefeated in 15 meetings.

Better make that 16.

On Friday night, in front of 5,157 fans at the O’Connell Center, Florida continued its streak against Arkansas with a 196.7-195.75 win.

But Friday’s win proved a little more significant than the previous 15 because it marked the first time the two teams met while ranked in the top 10.

“They are a growing team, and they’re a relatively young team,” Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn said. “What’s nice to see is that they’re continuing to get stronger and better. It’s wonderful to be able to go up against them and to see them, each time, giving us more of a challenge.”

Florida accounted for all three scores of 9.9 or higher, and two of those came in the vault. During the first rotation, the Gators (3-1, 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference) got a 9.925 from junior Corey Hartung and a season-high 9.9 from senior Ashley Reed to beat Arkansas (2-3, 0-2 SEC) by .35 and give the Gym’Backs an uphill climb the rest of the way.

Hartung’s performance propelled her to the ninth all-around title of her career — tied for seventh on the Gators’ all-time list.

“I’m just determined. Every meet, I make it very important to myself to perform my best,” said Hartung, the No. 1-ranked gymnast in the nation in vaults. “I’m just focused and ready to go for every meet, and I guess that’s where the confidence and the consistency comes in.”

Despite the win, several members on Florida’s team were disappointed with their performance. And after competing in front of a school-record crowd against Georgia earlier this season and coming back from the road, sophomore Melanie Sinclair said focus was the issue.

“You could tell by the crowd and our energy that there wasn’t as much (focus),” said Sinclair, who recorded a 9.85 in the floor, beam and vault to finish second in the all-around. “But that’s when you have to step up and make it that much within yourself. You have to bring the energy from within and perform the same.”

That energy was lacking most in the bars, where senior Nicola Willis — who Faehn regretted putting in because she had been sick all week — fell in the second rotation, leading Arkansas to win its only event of the night. It was the second-straight meet the Gators didn’t perform well in the bars — an event that used to be Florida’s strong suit.

“I think for us, it’s the fact that everybody’s stressing,” Sinclair said. “It’s kind of getting to some of us, and we think about (our mistakes) instead of what we know how to do.”

Florida went into the fourth rotation leading by .5, then got its third 9.9-plus score by sophomore Amanda Castillo, who sealed it for the Gators.

But despite the win, Faehn still sees a lot of room for improvement.

“I still feel like we are making little mistakes, and they’re little mental mistakes here and there that are really adding up to not getting us where we want to be,” Faehn said. “We have to work on being a little bit more polished.”

The Gators’ next meet will be Friday, when they travel to Lexington to face Kentucky at 7 p.m.

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