It didn’t start out pretty for the second-seeded Gators on Thursday night, but that didn’t stop them from reaching their fifth-consecutive Super Six.
Like the Southeastern Conference Championships and the North Central Regional, Florida didn’t get off to the start it wanted to.
On the team’s first routine of the night, freshman Ashanée Dickerson fell from the bars, and the team recorded its lowest bar score (48.9) since the season opener against Oklahoma.
Heading into the locker room for their second bye, the Gators sat in fourth place behind Alabama, Stanford and Missouri, and had to do something different if they wanted to compete again Friday.
Freshman Marissa King said the team lacked its usual “spirit” in its first two events.
That changed when the team went into the locker room and team choreographer Jeremy Miranda entertained the gymnasts with a dance.
“It kinda pumped us up, and we were all dancing in the locker room and we just came out and just let it all out on the floor,” Dickerson said.
The team responded in its third event and recouped to put together a 49.275, the highest floor total of the session.
Florida followed it up with the best vault total of the night (49.425) and finished the meet in second place (196.775) behind Alabama (196.850).
“They’re fighters. They just continued to push and continued to show what we’re made of and what we’re capable of,” UF coach Rhonda Faehn said.
Stanford (196.3) finished in third to fill out the Super Six field. It joins Florida, Alabama and the three teams that advanced from Thursday’s first session – UCLA, Utah and Oklahoma.
The six teams will compete Friday night at 6 in the O’Connell Center for the national title, and for the first time since 2004, a new champion will be crowned.
Florida will be looking to take home its first NCAA title in school history, but the Gators will need to be more consistent than they were Thursday if they hope to do so.
“I think, really, genuinely, they got the jitters out today. They know that they’re going to throw all that away and just come back (Friday) and just go out and do what they’re capable of doing,” Faehn said.