In two days, Florida will take to the mats and compete for one of six spots in the NCAA Championships on April 15.
The team will be performing in Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Missouri — a location two Gators are already familiar with.
Freshmen Amelia Hundley and Rachel Gowey competed there last June during the 2016 P&G Championship. It was their last elite level competition before the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Hundley finished sixth in the all-around, while Gowey finished ninth out of 24 athletes.
The two are hoping their experience and prior success in the arena will be an advantage come Friday.
“Definitely at each arena you go to, the setup is different. The lighting is different,” Gowey said. “But hopefully, when I go there it will feel kind of like I’ve done it before. It won’t be all new to me.”
Fewer than four months ago, the pair was kicking off their collegiate careers on the road at N.C. State.
Now, they are only guaranteed one more meet in their freshmen seasons.
“It’s been amazing. I’ve loved every second of it,” Hundley said. “I couldn’t have asked for it to go better. I’m really just trying to enjoy these moments because it’s crazy how fast this freshman year went.”
Hundley has been an all-around entry in all but one of the Gators' meets this season — the most on the team besides sophomore Alicia Boren — and has been consistently improving each meet.
“She’s come in and really just done what we knew she was able to do,” Florida coach Jenny Rowland said. “She’s done exactly what we’ve asked her to do and we don’t expect anything less this weekend."
Though Gowey has struggled to put complete meets together, the Urbandale, Iowa, native will be a big factor in the Gators’ lineup, especially on beam and bars.
With only days separating Florida from the prospect of winning the program’s fourth NCAA title in the last five seasons, the stakes are higher than ever for UF's young team.
It will need to get past some stiff competition, including Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and LSU, in their semifinal to advance.
But the Gators feel ready for the challenge.
“I think we’re all excited because we have been working towards this the whole season,” Hundley said. “I think we’re ready for our hard work to pay off.”