Quad meet should give Gators taste of NCAAs

The Florida Gators huddle and cheer after the meet against the University of Illinois-Chicago on Jan. 13.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 at 12:05 a.m.

The fact that the No. 8 Florida Gators get a chance to see how they stack up against top-ranked Arkansas will certainly be something to watch when those two are joined by No. 24 Maryland and Bridgeport for tonight's quad meet in the O'Connell Center at 7.

But the main reason tonight's meet is big for the Gators is that this is the only regular-season meet run in the same format as those all-important postseason meets that mean everything in the end.

Tonight will be the first regular-season quad meet UF has hosted since 2006.

“I've always referred to it as sort of a three-ring circus,” UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. “Everything's going on at the same time. It's really a great test for the athletes to keep their focus with a lot of things going on around, and it will be loud. So it's important because our SECs, regionals and nationals are exactly the same way.”

The Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC), winners of three straight dual meets to open the season, come in with a scoring average of 196.158, while the Razorbacks (6-0, 2-0), who share the No. 1 spot with UCLA (196.775), are enjoying the highest ranking in the 10-year history of their program.

Maryland (194.008), the other ranked team in the field, won a home tri-meet last Friday over Bridgeport, tonight's fourth and final competitor, and Alaska-Anchorage.

“In SECs and nationals, there are going to be several teams always competing at the same time, so it's going to be the same sort of aspect,” junior, and six-time All-American, Marissa King said. “It's nice having that experience early-on in the season to kind of show the girls who have just come in what that's all about.”

The Gators posted a season-high mark of 196.275 in winning their SEC opener at Kentucky last Friday, led by SEC Freshman of the Week Kytra Hunter's third straight all-around title.

“We're definitely moving in the right direction,” Faehn said. “It's exactly what we're looking for. After evaluating the video footage from Kentucky, I think we did a fantastic job. We were much sharper and we definitely got more stuck landings, so I was really impressed with the way we came into that competition and competed aggressively.

“We're looking for the exact same thing but a step better this week.”

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