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Sunday, June 23, 2024
<p>Florida junior Ashanée Dickerson fell on beam for the first time in her collegiate career last season against Arkansas, registering a disappointing 9.275.</p>

Florida junior Ashanée Dickerson fell on beam for the first time in her collegiate career last season against Arkansas, registering a disappointing 9.275.

 Facing a top-ranked team like Arkansas may seem like a daunting task, but the Gators have a score to settle with the Razorbacks.

When No. 8 Florida (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) hosts No. 1 Arkansas (6-0, 2-0 SEC), No. 24 Maryland (3-2) and Bridgeport (2-1) in a quad meet in the O’Connell Center tonight at 7, it will look to avenge its only defeat of the 2011 regular season.

In last year’s loss against Arkansas on Feb. 25, No. 1 Florida left Fayetteville, Ark., stunned after getting upset 196.70-196.10.

“It’s in the back of our heads all of the time,” sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto said.

In that meet, UF and Arkansas were tied heading into the final rotation.

On balance beam, then-freshman Alaina Johnson and then-sophomore Ashanée Dickerson suffered the first beam falls of their collegiate careers and scored a 9.05 and 9.275, respectively.

The Gators were forced to count a miss toward their team total.

In the 2011 postseason, UF placed second (196.975) at the SEC Championships, surpassing fourth-place Arkansas (195.800).

But the Razorbacks eventually edged out the Gators 196.55 to 196.425 at the NCAA North Central Regional.

“It was a very close meet,” Dickerson said of last season’s regular-season matchup. “But this year, I’m just going to go for it all and not worry about last year.”

Junior Marissa King said last year’s regular-season loss doesn’t linger with her, but she’s not sure if it still does with any of her teammates.

“I think a loss is like a nice realization of where you are in a season,” King said.

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“A loss is expected, and that just happened to be our loss last season against that team. I don’t think there was ever like a dent or a scar that came from it.”

The two SEC teams feature recent award winners. UF’s Kytra Hunter earned SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week honors on Tuesday, while Arkansas sophomore Katherine Grable was named SEC Gymnast of the Week.

For the Razorbacks, Grable (39.492) and senior Jaime Pisani (39.367) have the second- and ninth-highest all-around averages in the country, respectively.

Hunter (39.233) is 16th in the nation in that category, while King and Dickerson are tied for 20th with a 39.188 average.

No. 8 Florida is not only focused on the challenge the top-ranked Razorbacks present, but also on adjusting to the swift, tournament-style pace of a quad meet.

All four teams will compete one after another with no down time, similar to how the SEC Championships, NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships are organized.

“I’ve always referred to [a quad meet] as a three-ring circus,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “It’s really a great test for the athletes to be able to focus with a lot of things going on.”

Florida junior Ashanée Dickerson fell on beam for the first time in her collegiate career last season against Arkansas, registering a disappointing 9.275.

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