Notebook: UF gymnastics team reaps honors
Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 at 3:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 7, 2014 at 3:52 p.m.
The accolades continue to roll in for the top-ranked Florida gymnastics team.
Who: No. 15 Florida (20-12) vs. No. 1 Florida State (26-5)
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Of note: Florida is going for the sweep of the three-game regular-season series against FSU after a 3-1 win March 18 in Gainesville and a 4-1 win in Jacksonville on March 25, when the teams were involved in a benches-clearing shoving match that led to a three-game suspension for UF first baseman Zack Powers and FSU outfielder D.J. Stewart. … FSU is on an eight-game winning streak. … The Gators are 7-4 (.636) against top-25 competition this season, 4-0 against top-five clubs.
Following UF's NCAA regional win Saturday, coach Rhonda Faehn and sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan have been named the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches Southeast Region Coach of the Year and Gymnast of the Year, respectively.
It is the fourth NACGC regional honor in the last five years and the seventh overall for Faehn, who is in her 12th year at UF, while Sloan, the nation's top-ranked all-arounder and defending NCAA all-around champion, is just the second Gator gymnast to be honored, joining former All-American Ashanee Dickerson (2010, 2011).
“It's always a nice honor and recognition to be recognized by our peers,” Faehn said. “For Bridget especially, it's something very nice because she has worked tremendously hard all season long and has won just about every all-around meet she's been in this year.”
The Gators will be the No. 1 seed for the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala., April 18-20, where they will be the defending champions for the first time. Monday, they found out they will compete in the second of two semifinal sessions that starts at 8 p.m. Friday, April 18, along with squads from Alabama, UCLA, Nebraska, Penn State and Utah.
Teams from Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Stanford and Illinois will compete in the first session that starts at 2 p.m., with the top three teams from each semifinal advancing to the Super Six competition the next night where the national champion will be determined.
“We're thrilled to be going to the national championship,” Faehn said. “It's a huge honor every single year to know that everything you work for all season long is close now, and 12 great teams have qualified.”
The SEC title is still up for grabs coming into the final weekend of regular-season play, and the No. 7-ranked Gators will be home for both of their matches.
Florida (17-4, 9-2), sitting just one game out of first, will square off against one of the three teams tied for the top spot when No. 8 Vanderbilt (17-4, 10-1) visits the Varsity Courts for a big SEC match Friday at 5 p.m.
The Gators will then close out the regular season with a Senior Day match against Kentucky (15-7, 5-6) Sunday at 1 p.m.
UF swept Mississippi State and Ole Miss this past weekend on the road, both by 4-0 scores.
“I was really pleased,” coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We're about as healthy as we have been in a long time.”
Seniors Olivia Janowicz, Sofie Oyen and Alexandra Cercone will be recognized in a special ceremony prior to the match with Kentucky.
“It will be a bittersweet moment on Sunday, celebrating what they've accomplished here and what they've meant to this program,” Thornqvist said. “They've been part of an unparalleled stretch of success.”
No. 4 UF moved closer to winning a fourth straight American Lacrosse Conference regular-season championship with a come-from-behind, 10-9 road win over No. 13 Johns Hopkins on Saturday.
The victory, UF's fifth in a row, improved the Gators to 13-2 overall and 4-0 in ALC play as they remained the league's only unbeaten team.
“It was an exciting game,” coach Amanda O'Leary said. “It was back-and-forth. Hopkins came out with a really good game plan, and we countered as best we could.”
Junior Shannon Gilroy led the UF charge with seven goals, all of them coming in the second half.
Florida returns to Donald R. Dizney Stadium to face ALC foe Vanderbilt (4-8, 1-2) Sunday at noon. It will be UF's final regular-season home match of the year and Senior Day, with a ceremony honoring Cara Canington and Krista Grabher to take place prior to the opening draw.
“I think Senior Day is always special whether you have two or you have 13 (which UF had last year),” O'Leary said. “It's an opportunity to honor those players who have given everything they have to your program, and Cara and Krista have done just that.”