Florida gymnastics wins regionals
Published: Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 11:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 11:01 p.m.
RALEIGH, N.C. — It's on to the NCAA Championships for the No. 1 University of Florida gymnastics team after claiming the Raleigh Regional meet title Saturday evening in front of 2,265 at the Reynolds Coliseum on North Carolina State's campus. The Gators will be the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Championships set for April 20-22 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.
This will be 30th national championships appearance for the Gators, missing only the 2000 meet in the 31-year history of the NCAA Gymnastics Championships.
The Gators posted a 197.325 Saturday to bring the program's total number of regional wins to an even dozen. Ohio State was second at 196.225 to claim the other NCAA Championships' berth, which will be the Buckeyes first national championship appearance since 1990. NC State was third at 195.975, followed by Penn State (195.65), North Carolina (194.025) and Kent State (193.575).
At the Southeastern Conference Championships, the Gators won the title, but there were some areas that needed some polishing as the team continued in the championship portion of their season. Florida coach Rhonda Faehn liked that her team showed some improvements, but also acknowledged there are still some areas that will be focused on in the upcoming training sessions.
“I think our main focus was just coming in here to compete aggressively and to correct the problems we had at SECs. I think we accomplished that,” Faehn said. “I'm happy with the results and the way the team carried themselves and performed and I'm happy that we have some things to work on when we get home.”
Four of the meet's top six all-arounders were Gators. Junior All-American Ashanée Dickerson used her season-best total of 39.65 to claim her third all-around title of 2012. It is also her second regional all-around win, as she used her collegiate-best total of 39.70 to take the NCAA North Central title in 2010.
Sophomore All-American Alaina Johnson was second at 39.55, while junior All-American Marissa King was fourth at 39.325 and freshman Kytra Hunter took sixth at 39.25.
At least a share of each of the four event titles went to a Gator. Dickerson shared the vault title with Johnson as each turned in collegiate-best marks of 9.95. It is the fifth time for each to post a 9.95 on vault. Hunter also turned in a 9.90 to tie for fourth on the event.
Dickerson and Johnson again combined to share the uneven bars title, as they each posted a 9.90 on the event in Florida's opening rotation. They shared the event title with NC State's Rachel Fincham. The win pushes Johnson's career total of bar titles to 12 while Dickerson earns her third of the season. Sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto shared fourth overall at 9.85.
King anchored the Gators' balance beam lineup with her winning mark of 9.925 – her sixth beam mark of 9.925 or higher in the last eight meets. It was her eighth beam win of 2012 and the 10th of her career. Dickerson was second at 9.90 while Johnson and junior Randy Stageberg were among a five-way tie for third at 9.85.
Hunter used a 9.95 to pick up her seventh title of the season on the event. It was her fifth floor exercise mark of 9.95 or higher this season. Dickerson was second at 9.90, while Johnson was among a four-way tie for third at 9.85.
Uneven bars was the starting event for the top-seeded team at each of the nation's six regional sites. Faehn like the way the Gators opened competition on that event and carried that focus throughout the meet.
“I'm really pleased. They did a great job starting out aggressively on bars. We were able to stick three of the landings and carry that energy and momentum to the beam,” she said. “Beam I thought was lights out. We had two wobbly routines but the other four were magnificent. So that helped keep the energy up.
“We had a few little things on floor, like going out of bounds. We were happy to see some of the things improved upon from SECs. Alaina landed her last pass so much better. Marissa, even though she went out of bounds on her first pass, she corrected her second and third pass. Ashanée was just on fire tonight. She nailed her passes and hit the last one without even a lunge,” she said. “Vault was a wonderful way to finish. Tonight and probably SECs were our best vault sets of the season.”
For Dickerson, she pointed to a key factor present tonight that seems to be a boost for this team's performances.
“We had a lot fun with each other,” Dickerson said. “I think that helped us perform to the best of our ability tonight.'
Next up, the Gators await the NCAA's announcement Monday of team assignments for the two April 20 NCAA semifinal sessions.
The National Qualifying Score (NQS) determines the pairings for day one of the team competition at the NCAA Championships. The NQS is calculated by adding a team's regional qualifying score (RQS) and score from the regional meet. Teams are ranked 1 to 12 based on the NQS. Teams 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 12 will be placed in one semifinal and teams 2, 3, 6, 7, 10 and 11 placed in the other.
The top three from each of the semifinal sessions advance to the NCAA Super Six on April 21 where the national team champion will be determined.
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