With a winning streak at stake, the Florida gymnastics team will need to show what it’s made of in the Show-Me State.
Traveling to Columbia, Missouri, the No. 2 Gators are poised to take on the No. 19 Mizzou Tigers at the 13,611-capacity Hearnes Center.
"I think we’re gonna do exactly how we do in practice," sophomore Ericha Fassbender said.
"Just go out there, have fun (and a lot of energy) and just kind of focus on us and just do our job."
Tonight’s installment — set to commence at 7 — is only the 17th between the two schools in the 44-year history of Florida’s gymnastics program.
UF has yet to slip up. Flaunting a perfect 16-0 record all-time against the Tigers (5-6, 1-3 Southeastern Conference), Florida’s last encounter with their intraconference foe resulted in a 198.225-195.975 victory in the Gators’ sixth meet of the 2015 season.
The Gators (5-1, 3-1 SEC) enter tonight’s meet fresh off of their fourth consecutive win over a top-10 opponent, having defeated then-No. 9 Arkansas at home last Friday.
The win featured standout individual performances from freshman Alicia Boren and sophomore Alex McMurtry, two athletes who each clinched their third SEC weekly honors of the season.
Boren and McMurtry’s Freshman and Specialist of the Week titles mark the fifth time this season UF’s gymnasts have been commended in the conference’s weekly awards.
Meanwhile, Mizzou has languished, sitting seventh out of eight teams in the SEC standings.
Most recently, the Tigers dropped a 196.050-194.675 result to last-place Kentucky.
They also lost four straight in a month-long stretch earlier this season, losing to three out-of-conference teams.
However, meets aren’t won on paper.
Regardless of past performance, the Tigers are capable of a pulling off an unexpected win.
In its biggest victory of the season, Mizzou upset then-No. 9 Georgia 195.800-195.350, the same Bulldogs that upended Florida in the Gators’ only defeat of the year.
Additionally, they boast a freshman duo that’s poised to make noise for years to come.
Britney Ward — the 2013 Junior Olympics National Level 10 beam champion — has won the conference’s Specialist and Freshman of the Week awards one time each. Morgan Porter — another Level 10 competitor and the 2014 Missouri State and Region IV vault and bars titleholder — owns Missouri’s top all-around score of the season.
Records aside, the Tigers command respect, and for Florida, they present another obstacle in the road to a strong regular-season finish.
But with another week of practice under their belts, the Gators are confident in their ability to come away with a win on the road.
"Going into this away meet against another SEC school is gonna be a good competition," senior Bridgette Caquatto said.
"We’re hoping for a good score, and just going out there and keeping the team energy alive while we’re (not in) the O’Dome. We’re gonna work on our team energy and just having solid routines."