Gators gymnastics team No. 2 in preseason poll

Florida gymnast Alex McMurtry celebrates after her performance on the uneven bars during the NCAA Gymnastics Regional at the Exactech Arena on April 1, 2017. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]


The preseason poll is out and the Gator gymnastics team starts the 2018 season at No. 2, according to the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches rankings.

This is Florida’s 12th consecutive year opening a season in a top-five position (2007: 3rd; 2008: 2nd; 2009: 3rd; 2010: 4th; 2011: 3rd; 2012: 3rd, 2013: 3rd; 2014: 1st, 2015: 1st, 2016: 2nd, 2017: 5th; 2018: 2nd).

Two-time defending NCAA champion Oklahoma opens 2018 at the top of the preseason poll. Louisiana State, Alabama and Utah round out the top five.

Florida faces nine opponents among the top 20, including home dates against the other three teams making up the preseason top four. Florida’s home action opens Jan. 12 vs. No. 3 Louisiana State, followed by home meets with No. 1 Oklahoma (Jan. 26) and No. 4 Alabama (Feb. 9). All five home meets include a preseason top-20 team as No. 19 Arkansas visits on Feb. 23 for the Gators Link to Pink meet and home action closes on March 9 with No. 9 Nebraska.

Last year, the Gators took third in the NCAA Super Six team final. It was Florida’s sixth consecutive national finish among the nation’s top four.

Florida returns five who have earned 21 All-America honors in NCAA competition – Kennedy Baker, Alicia Boren, Amelia Hundley, Alex McMurtry and Rachel Slocum. McMurtry is the defending NCAA all-around champion and shared the 2017 NCAA uneven bars title.