At the beginning of its practice on Tuesday, the Florida gymnastics team wasn’t rehearsing its sprints on vault or tweaking its routine on balance beam. It wasn’t even preparing to warm up. Instead, each member of the team had a smile on her face and a lacrosse stick in her hand as the team competed in a small lacrosse scrimmage.
“The lacrosse (team) did a video for us before our Oklahoma meet wishing (us) good luck,” sophomore Amelia Hundley said with a laugh during the scrimmage. “We were trying to play with the lacrosse balls (since) they tried to do gymnastics. It’s not going so well.”
The team will meet No. 14 Georgia (3-3, 3-2 SEC) in Athens at 7 p.m. in its fourth away meet of the season.
“We don’t have the 10,000 fans cheering for us,” Hundley said. “So we have to make sure that we bring that energy.”
The mood in the practice gym mirrored Hundley’s light attitude as the team prepared to return to regular-season action following its 197.850-197.075 win over Alabama on Feb. 9.
Florida had plenty to celebrate. Senior Alex McMurtry dominated the Alabama meet with wins on bars and vault, and senior Kennedy Baker closed out the night with a 10.0 on floor.
The No. 5 Gators (5-1, 3-1 SEC) secured two SEC honors this week with Baker taking SEC Specialist Gymnast of the Week and freshman Alyssa Baumann claiming SEC Freshman of the Week.
For Marietta, Georgia, native Megan Skaggs, tonight’s meet means returning home. Compared to the O’Connell Center crowd she performs in front of every other week, the backing of her home state, family and friends will provide Skaggs with a different type of energy.
“I grew up going to the meets in that arena,” Skaggs said. “It’s just surreal to be going down on the floor and actually competing.”
The meet at Georgia is also special to McMurtry, who will make a return on floor, an event she hasn’t competed in since the NCAA Super Six on April 15 of last year. McMurtry took a break from the routine due to a lingering back injury this season but will make her debut tonight in the Stegeman Coliseum.
“I know that it’s an event that you would not imagine she’s a little nervous about,” coach Jenny Rowland said. “But she’s done the work.”
Last season, UF swept the Bulldogs with two wins, once in the regular season and once in the SEC Championships. In Florida’s matchup against the No. 14-ranked team, the Gators will look to take their fourth SEC win of 2018.
“Any SEC meet is exciting,” Hundley said. “I think SEC appreciates good gymnastics, even if it’s from the opposite team. We always have fun no matter what.”