The Florida gymnastics team is finding its groove, having won its previous five meets by an average of 0.480 points.
Coming off its second-highest road total of the season — a 196.950-point performance to defeat Georgia on Feb. 16 — it returns home tonight to host No. 11 Arkansas (2-7, 2-4 SEC).
But as Florida tries to extend its winning streak to six consecutive meets, it will have something else on its mind as well.
For the 12th year in a row, UF (6-1, 4-1 SEC) will don pink uniforms instead of its regular orange or blue ones to support breast cancer awareness at the annual Gators Link to Pink meet. The cause is an extra source of motivation for the Gators, a team that usually draws its energy off each other and its packed home crowd.
“When I first came to Florida, we did the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, and it was really great to see all those survivors and their fight,” freshman Alyssa Baumann said. “I wanna compete this weekend for them.”
The meet holds a more personal meaning for junior Alicia Boren.
Boren is proud to call her aunt, Kathy, a cancer survivor and was happy to share the Gators’ victory last year on Jan. 27 with her when she attended their Link to Pink meet against Auburn.
Tonight, Kathy will watch her niece perform for a great cause again against the Razorbacks.
“I’m excited to be able to have that with her again this year,” Boren said. “Seeing the smile on her face makes the smile on my face even bigger.”
UF has defeated the Razorbacks in six straight regular-season meets, but this year, Arkansas draws confidence from its own wins against Georgia on Jan. 26 and Auburn on Feb. 9.
But as the Gators enter their eighth meet of the season, coach Jenny Rowland has moved her attention further down the schedule.
“(We’re) starting to focus on trying to get those lineups solidified here in the next couple of weeks and ready for postseason,” Rowland said.
With the team still having two more meets left in the regular season, Rowland can settle for now with Florida’s most recent success. This includes the Gators’ latest win against Georgia, where five different Gators made eight career- or season-best marks.
“All in all, execution, landings, the team’s just been doing a fabulous job stepping up everyday in the gym and actually transferring that onto the competition floor,” Rowland said.