Notebook: Gymnastics to host regional
Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 at 7:35 p.m.
The top-ranked Florida gymnastics team, coming off back-to-back Southeastern Conference titles for the first time since 1984-85, will host the NCAA Gainesville Regional on Saturday, April 6 at 6 p.m.
The 36-team NCAA field was announced Monday, and joining the Gators in the O'Connell Center will be No. 12 Minnesota, No. 12 (tie) Auburn, No. 24 Maryland, Pittsburgh and Bridgeport.
It will be the first regional in the O-Dome since 2008, with the top two teams advancing to the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles April 19-21.
“We're so excited to be hosting this,” head coach Rhonda Faehn said. “It's been years since we hosted.
“It's really exciting. Our athletes get a little more training time in because we don't have to travel, and also, of course, just to sleep in their own beds is wonderful. It's going to be just like a home competition.”
Auburn and Minnesota will be making return trips to Gainesville. The Gators defeated the Tigers 197.65-196.025 back on Jan. 25 and later set a school-record team mark in their 198.425-197.175 win over the Golden Gophers on March 1.
Florida has won 12 NCAA regional titles in all, seven of them in the last eight years.
“We want everyone in Gainesville and the surrounding communities to come out,” Faehn said. “I know there's a lot going on that Saturday (Orange and Blue game), but at 6 p.m., we need all the support we can get. It's going to be a great competition.”
Second-ranked Florida opened American Lacrosse Conference action with a hard-fought, 12-7 home win over visiting Ohio State Saturday.
The victory kept the Gators (13-0, 1-0), who earlier in the week easily downed a first-year Stetson squad by a 22-1 count in their final midweek game, perfect on the season.
Next up, Florida, the two-time defending ALC regular-season champion, faces a tough league road test at No. 9 Penn State (6-3, 1-0) Saturday at noon.
“It's always nice to have a week of preparation for teams versus one or two days, sometimes no days,” head coach Amanda O'Leary said. “Even though we hope that preparation will pay off, Penn State is a great team, and they have had much success this season.
“We know their coaching staff really well and we know their team really well, and it's turned out to be a great competition between the two schools. I'm just really excited to play them because it's one of those competitions that you never know what's going to happen. Your team has to be prepared mentally and physically to go into that game.”
The No. 2 Gators closed out an unbeaten, five-match homestand by defeating No. 8 Alabama, 4-1, and No. 18 Auburn, 4-0, in SEC dual-match action this past weekend.
UF (13-2, 6-1), which has won six straight matches, hits the road for the first time in three weeks when the Gators travel to take on LSU Friday and Arkansas Sunday.
“Actually, since the first of February, we've played a really difficult schedule, and I can tell it's really taken its toll a little bit, perhaps not as much physically as mentally at this point,” head coach Roland Thornqvist said.
“I'm very proud to see how we've handled this stretch, frankly, because we've lost a lot of doubles points, and we're not used to losing doubles points. It has shown how tough this team is. We've been able to compartmentalize the doubles loss and begin the singles play with a clean score sheet. What's helped is the fact that we've been the team with the first singles match off the court, so we've been able to tie the score 1-1 really quickly.”