UF gymnastics advances to Super Six


Published: Friday, April 20, 2012 at 9:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 20, 2012 at 9:22 p.m.

DULUTH, Ga. — The top-seeded Florida Gators don’t have to face the disappointment of missing out on the Super Six two years in a row.

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Florida's Marissa King celebrates with a coach after her performance on the vault exercise during the NCAA Gymnastics Semifinal session 2 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Friday night in Duluth, Ga. (Jason Getz/Tuscaloosa News)

With a score of 197.65, the Gators took second place in the second session and will compete today for the national championship.

“Last year, we didn’t make the Super Six, and that was a huge disappointment because we had such an incredibly talented team,” said head coach Rhonda Faehn. “This team was so determined that wasn’t going to happen again and really just stayed focused on the moment and what we had to do.

“It’s going to be great. I just really want the athletes to stay in the moment and enjoy every bit of it.”

Florida started off the meet on vault, where it got a 49.575, counting four scores of a 9.9 or better, including a 9.975 from Kytra Hunter and a 9.95 from Marissa King.

In the first rotation, the only team to do better than the Gators was No. 2-seeded Alabama, which counted only scores of 9.9 or better. The Crimson Tide had the lead after the first rotation with a score of 49.6.

Florida came back to take first place during the third rotation on its second event with a 49.45 team score on bars to have an overall score of 99.025.

Georgia, as the No. 5 seed in the second session, competed on beam for the second rotation and had three falls, having to count two of them. The Bulldogs fell behind early and couldn’t recover. They finished in fifth place with a score of 196.5.

The Gators kept a 0.1 lead over Alabama after three rotations, with Arkansas in third place. The fourth and final rotation for Florida was floor, having gotten a 49.35 on beam.

Two gymnasts stepped out of bounds on floor, meaning the team had to count a 9.85. Still, with all the momentum built up preceding the last event, it wasn’t a mistake that had any lasting effect.

“I was a little frustrated because I know we’re better than that, and I know that we just have to stay focused on controlling our energy because our team does have so much power and energy,” Faehn said. “They just have to harness it slightly.”

Hunter won the all-around with a 39.725. She also won the all-around title at the SEC Championships a month ago.

“I’m really honored to get the all-around title, but I went into each event as a new event, and I just stayed in my bubble and the team’s bubble,” Hunter said. “We had fun, and I think we do better when we’re loose and not uptight.”

The two non-SEC teams in Session II, Oregon State and Ohio State, each had a bye during the first rotation and didn’t ever seem like a threat during the meet. Matched up against four SEC teams put the odds up against the two lower seeds in the session. The Buckeyes ended in fourth place with a team total of 196.525, and the Beavers took sixth place with a 196.475.

From the first session, UCLA, Stanford and Utah advanced to the Super Six. For Saturday’s championship, it’ll be a showdown between the Pac-12 and the SEC.

“There are so many strong teams coming into the national championship,” Faehn said. “Within our conference, all of our competition every single season, it’s a tremendous challenge. It really prepares our athletes.”

The competition starts at 4 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

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