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No. 3 ranking does not bother talented UF squad

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Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:03 am

Although Florida (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) has achieved the highest score in the nation this year, the Gators fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in the national rankings Monday.

But at the end of the regular season, a No. 3 ranking is not cause for worry.

UF’s 198.325 against West Virginia on March 7 not only set the record high in 2014 NCAA gymnastics, but it also made Florida’s record book as the third-highest overall score in UF history.

“I think we were much more solid in areas — we worked very hard on that. Our bar dismounts were improved this past Friday as well as our overall rotations on beam,” coach Rhonda Faehn said.

“Vault, that’s still the area we’re working on getting those landings just a little bit, and it is better.”

It may seem odd for a team that has achieved the closest score to perfect and the most 10s in the nation is not ranked No. 1, but gymnastics rankings are based on the average of six scores, not just one top performance.

A team’s place in the weekly NCAA rankings is based on regional qualifying scores. A team’s RQS is calculated by adding up the team’s three highest road scores and the team’s next three highest scores. The highest score of all six is subtracted from the total, and then the remaining amount is divided by five.

With this math, Florida’s RQS sits behind No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 1 LSU with a 197.565. Alabama, the only team that has handed the Gators a loss this year, is right behind UF at No. 4.

Making history doesn’t faze the 2014 Florida squad too much anymore. Of the 22 perfect 10s in the history of Florida gymnastics, seven have been scored this season. Kytra Hunter has laid claim to five 10s between vault and floor while sophomore Bridget Sloan has earned a 10 on floor and beam.

“I’ve said it so many times I almost sound like a broken recorder,” Faehn said. “Every time she gets out on the floor, especially for vault or floor, she really has the opportunity to score a 10.”

With only one meet left in the regular season, Faehn and her squad are staying focused on the real fun — the postseason — and not the rankings.

“We know that it’s great that the team can see, and that everyone can see, that there is this tremendous talent and performance level but still even greater potential,” Faehn said after her team’s win against WVU. “Friday night’s competition was definitely the step that we were looking for getting our athletes prepared for postseason.”

The Gators have only three days to prepare for their first trip to Columbia, Mo., since the Tigers joined the SEC last year.

“It’s just a matter of preparing our athletes in the few training days that we do have,” Faehn said. “We will be using this as an opportunity to have the lineups solidified as best we can as preparation for the SEC Championship.

“This is their favorite part of the season. Heading into our last regular season meet and then what they always say is the real fun really starts at SECs, regionals and nationals.”

Follow Erica A. Hernandez on Twitter @EricaAlyssa

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