UF gymnastics has quiet weapon

Published: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 12:48 a.m.

Moments before she performs her beam routine, Ashley Reed disappears. Florida's senior All-American gymnast isn't being shy. She's just getting focused.


Tonight's match

Who: No. 9 Arkansas at No. 3 Florida
When: Tonight, 7
Where: O'Connell Center

"Before she goes up on beam you cannot find her," Gators coach Rhonda Faehn said. "She is off in the background doing her mental imagery and her dance lines."

On a team with many vocal personalities, Reed has become Florida's quiet weapon.

"She is more of a behind-the-scenes athlete, a quiet leader," Faehn said. "People go, ‘Where did she come out from? Who is that?’ Then she stuns everyone by winning the all-around."

Reed will enter today's 7 p.m. competition between No. 3 Florida and No. 9 Arkansas in the O'Connell Center with nine career all-around titles. Her latest came last week when her score of 39.275 was the best during the Gators' win at Auburn.

"It's always exciting to get an all-around win," Reed, a native of Davie, said. "It makes you feel like you got out there and did the best you could."

Reed's senior season, however, got off to a rocky start. Reed suffered a fall on bar during Florida's second meet of the season against Georgia in the O'Connell Center. The fall contributed to the Gators' 0.025 margin of defeat. Reed's fall was a result of performing a brand new bars routine.

"I fell on the new skill I had never competed before," Reed said. "That was my first time out there and I did miss it. They wanted me to go back and be more consistent."

As a result, Florida's coaches have since had Reed go back to her bars routine from last year. It paid off, as Reed recorded a 9.775 on bars at Auburn.

"We decided to go back to last year's bar routine," Faehn said. "She hit a nice bar routine (at Auburn). I was just really pleased for her."

Reed has enough to understand how to rebound from such a mistake.

"Mistakes happen and there's not much you can do about it at that point," Reed said. "You have to finish that routine and get your head back together."

As one of three seniors, Florida's gymnasts look to Reed to lead. After a junior season in which she earned three All-American honors and was named to the All-SEC first team, it's understandable. However, with many vocal personalities on the team such as sophomores Amanda Castillo and Melanie Sinclair, Reed often leads by example.

"She brings a different type of energy to the team," Sinclair said. "She's quiet but she has those moments when she has that burst of energy and she's sarcastic and fun and intelligent."

But most of the time, she's competing for all-around titles.

"Ashley has the potential every time she goes out there to contend for the all-around title," Faehn said.

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