UF gymnastics excited for home opener
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
There's nothing like a home opener to get a team's juices flowing.
Who: Florida (1-0) vs. Illinois-Chicago (1-0)
When: 7 tonight
Where: O'Connell Center
“I'm so excited that our home opener is here,” Florida gymnastics coach Rhonda Faehn said of tonight's meet against Illinois-Chicago in the O'Connell Center at 7.
“I think it's going to be an unbelievable opportunity for not only the whole team, but especially for our newcomers to see just how amazing this community is for its support for our gymnastics program. I'm anxious to see their faces when they run out of that tunnel and just feel the enthusiasm, so I think it's going to be really fun.”
The third-ranked Gators (1-0) claimed four of five individual titles en route to a season-opening, 196.025-194.675 road win at North Carolina State last Friday.
Freshman Kytra Hunter led the way, beginning her collegiate career with wins in the all-around (39.30) and floor exercise (9.90). She is just the fourth UF freshman in the last 25 seasons to win the all-around title in the season opener.
“It's a great feeling,” Hunter said. “I know there's going to be a lot bigger crowd than there was at N.C. State, so I'm very excited about my first home meet.”
“Most of them (freshmen) have been to a Gator meet before, but we've definitely given them advice as to what to expect, and I think they're very excited,” said 2011 NCAA vault champion Marissa King, who shared the beam title last week with fellow junior All-America Ashanee Dickerson and N.C. State's Jess Panza (9.825).
“They're going to be a little nervous because it's the first home meet and there will be people there they've invited, but it's going to be a great experience for them.”
UIC (1-0) also opened its season on the road, posting a 191.575-188.35 win at Northern Illinois.
“I'm really excited it's our first home meet because I didn't know really what to expect last year when I was a freshman,” sophomore All-America Alaina Johnson said. “Now I've experienced the home competitions and how much fun they are, and I can't wait to get out there and compete.”