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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Southeastern Conference Championships didn’t start out exactly how the No. 4 Gators had hoped, but it certainly ended the way they wanted it to.

Florida took home its seventh SEC title in school history with a team total of 197.050, edging out defending conference champion No. 1 Alabama (196.875).

After receiving a bye in the first rotation, Florida got off to a rough start on the vault, registering just a 49.125, the team’s second-lowest score of the season. But after another bye and performing on the uneven bars, the Gators put together their second best beam total of the year to rally in the second half of Saturday’s SEC Championships.

But it wasn’t without drama.

On beam, Florida was led off by senior Courtney Gladys, who put together a 9.9 to set the tone for the Gators. After solid routines by Amy Ferguson, Randy Stageberg and Rebekah Zaiser, freshman Liz Green fell twice during her routine.

Florida needed SEC Freshman of the Year Ashanée Dickerson to come through big like she has all season. And that’s just what she did.

Performing in her hometown of Jacksonville, Dickerson tallied a 9.925 on the beam to propel the Gators into first place with just one more event waiting for the team to compete in.

Following the beam, Florida went into its third bye of the day while Alabama closed out its meet on the floor. The Crimson Tide finished its routines and headed into the final rotation as the leader on the scoreboard with its 196.875.

But Alabama had to play the waiting game while Florida finished on the floor.

Green led off for the Gators on floor exercises and rebounded after her beam falls with a 9.875. The Gators carried that momentum to their first SEC title since 2007, as the team counted four 9.875s on floor and a 9.9 from senior Maranda Smith.

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