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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
<p>Bridget Sloan performs on the balance beam during UF’s 198.125 - 197.625 win over LSU Feb. 21 in the O’Connell Center. Florida starts competing in the NCAA Regionals on Saturday in University Park, Penn.</p>

Bridget Sloan performs on the balance beam during UF’s 198.125 - 197.625 win over LSU Feb. 21 in the O’Connell Center. Florida starts competing in the NCAA Regionals on Saturday in University Park, Penn.

The Gators will be more rested than usual when they compete at the 2014 NCAA University Park Regional on Saturday.

Besides competing against four teams that No. 1 Florida (15-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) did not face in the regular season, timing will also be different.

“The regional champ is really kind of a different feeling,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “Because there’s a greater variety of schools that we haven’t seen all year long.”

With six teams in the field and only four events occurring at any given time, two teams will be sitting out on a bye in the rotation. Instead of competing all four events back to back, the Gators will begin on vault and then take their first bye for the second rotation.

They will then come back to compete on uneven bars and balance beam in the third and fourth rotations, take a final bye in the fifth rotation and then come back to end on floor in the sixth.

The order of the events will be no different than a regular home meet. The only difference will be the approximately 20 minutes in the second and fifth rotations when the Gators will be waiting in their locker room to get back on the floor for the next event.

“Personally, I think byes are great,” Bridget Sloan said. “It’s a time to kind of relax because…your adrenaline cannot be at a high for that long.”

Sloan experienced byes with the 2013 team at the last NCAA Regionals and in the 2013 Super Six meet. Florida claimed a No. 1 finish in both events.

“It was definitely different but it was awesome because everyone came together as a team for once and we all helped each other kind of calm down a little bit in the locker room,” Sloan said. “It was honestly like we had five minutes of chill time, and then we had about 10 minutes to get pumped again. You were able to come down but then get right back up.”

The top-two finishers from each of the six regional sites will move on to the NCAA Championships, which take place April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala.

Florida will compete against No. 12 Oregon State, No. 15 Penn State, No. 23 New Hampshire, No. 29 Kentucky and No. 36 Maryland in University Park, Penn., on Saturday at 4 p.m. for one of the top two spots.

The 12 teams at the NCAA Championship will compete in two semifinal sessions of six teams each.

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The top three teams from each session compete in the 2014 Super Six field on April 19.

But the Gators are trying not to look that far ahead.

“Of course we bring it up once in a while but Rhonda always tells us that we need to stay in the moment and so that’s what we’re doing although we want to look ahead,” junior Kytra Hunter said. “We really want to go back to Birmingham and get that national title especially after coming in second for SECs.”

Follow Erica A. Hernandez on Twitter @EricaAlyssa

Bridget Sloan performs on the balance beam during UF’s 198.125 - 197.625 win over LSU Feb. 21 in the O’Connell Center. Florida starts competing in the NCAA Regionals on Saturday in University Park, Penn.

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