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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Gators gymnastics wins regional to clinch NCAA Championship berth

Heading into their final event of the NCAA North Central Regional, the Gators needed at least a 48.825 to surpass No. 10 Utah, which went into the rotation as the meet’s leader on the scoreboard.

The Gators earned that score and then some Saturday night in Salt Lake City as they tallied a season-high 49.575 on balance beam.

The score gave No. 4 Florida a team total of 197.675 as it took first overall at the regional and advanced to its 28th NCAA Championship appearance in the event’s 29-year history.

Host Utah finished second with a 196.900 and will join Florida as the other team from the region to advance to NCAA Championships in Gainesville.

On beam, everything clicked for the Gators (20-2, 5-1 Southeastern Conference), as five gymnasts set or tied a season high with their scores, including 9.9s from senior Courtney Gladys, sophomore Elizabeth Mahlich and freshman Marissa King.

Freshman Liz Green, who fell twice during her beam routine at the SEC Championships, came through with a 9.925 for the Gators, and fellow freshman Ashanée Dickerson took home the meet’s beam title with a 9.95 in the team’s final routine.

Dickerson also walked away with the regional’s all-around title as she scored a season-high 39.70, as she set a career-high on bars and tied her best vault and beam scores.

After starting out with a bye in the first rotation, Florida had to count a score on floor in which a gymnast stepped out of bounds, as both King and Randy Stageberg had miscues in their routines.

However, the team rebounded on vault with a 49.50, anchored by 9.9s from King and senior Maranda Smith – who scored a 9.9 on all three of her routines Saturday – and a 9.95 from Dickerson.

The score was Florida’s best on vault this season, and the team carried that momentum into its final two events of the night and a first-place finish in the regional.

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