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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The UF gymnastics team kicked off its year with the best season-opening performance in school history.

The No. 2 Gators took down the University of Illinois-Chicago 197.125 to 187.825.

Coach Rhonda Faehn did not attend Friday?s meet, as she was still recovering from having her first baby on Tuesday.

Assistant Coach Adrian Burde filled in for Faehn in her absence.

Throughout the meet, Faehn was text messaging Burde?s wife for updates on the team?s performance.

BMy wife got over 30 text messages from Rhonda,C Burde said.

Overall, Burde was pleased with the how the team performed in their season opener.

The Gators got strong performances from All-Americans Melanie Sinclair and Amanda Castillo, who both placed in the top 3 in all four events and had first-place finishes in 2 events.

The two gymnasts tied for first place in the uneven bars with a score of 9.925, tying a personal best for Castillo.

Sinclair took first place in the all-around competition, tying her best score of 39.525 and just beating out Castillo?s 39.500.

Castillo believes the team?s strong performance was due to its grueling practice regimen.

BWe?ve been working out really hard, training really hard in the gym and just working out the little mistakes that we had last year,C Castillo said.

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UF got solid results from Nicola Willis and Corey Hartung in the all-around and Tiffany Murry in the floor event.

For the first time in college and the first time in five years, Courtney Gladys officially competed in a meet. She participated in the vault, earning a 9.775 that was good for sixth place.

Gladys quit gymnastics in 2003, but after three years away she returned to the sport. It has taken her some time for her to be ready for college level gymnastics, but Burde thinks she is ready to compete at last.

BCourtney has been working so hard, she has been working the last year or two,C Burde said. BShe has been around for about two years and I think she finally got it, she finally understood what it takes to be successful in college.C

The Gators will need another good outing next week when they face Southeastern Conference rival and preseason No.1 Georgia.

The three-time defending national champion Bulldogs lost their season-opener on Friday to No. 3 Utah 196.300-196.200.

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