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Tuesday, March 05, 2024
<p>Bridgette Caquatto performs her floor exercise routine during UF's win against Auburn.</p>

Bridgette Caquatto performs her floor exercise routine during UF's win against Auburn.

The regular season was nice.

No. 2 Florida tried to enjoy each week and make the most out of every opportunity each dual meet afforded.

But there is no denying the team has been looking forward to this point in the season all year long.

"They’re excited — their energy level today is through the roof," coach Rhonda Faehn said. "They wanna get going now."

The Gators begin their long-awaited postseason Saturday when they head to Duluth, Georgia, for the Southeastern Conference Championships.

Florida is the top seed and will compete in the second session at 6 p.m. with the likes of LSU, Auburn and defending SEC champion Alabama.

For the teams, this meet is the first chance to see how they stack up against their competitors, many of whom will be competing again in the NCAA Championships in a few weeks, on an even playing field.

Florida lost to both Alabama and LSU in road meets during the regular season but will now get to truly measure how it stands against the two juggernauts.

"It’s always a little unfair when you go to dual meets," junior Bridgette Caquatto said. "That’s just how it rolls. Home team advantage is always a thing.

"I think it’s going to be great to be able to get an even playing ground. This is what we’ve been waiting for all season because we think we’re one of the best teams out there."

But for Caquatto, this meet is special in its own right.

"SECs, personally for me, is one of my favorite meets to go to," she said. "I think it’s the most fun and I think it’s even better than NCAAs."

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One of the biggest reasons why, Caquatto said, is the atmosphere. All the top SEC rivals get to compete in the same place on the same day in front of all their fans, creating a unique environment.

"The energy is insane," she said.

As a young girl, freshman Kennedy Baker was able to witness the atmosphere in person, and it has stuck with her to this day. Now, she gets her first crack at being a participant this weekend.

"My first college gymnastics meet I ever went to was SECs, and Florida won," Baker said. "I was like nine and it was crazy.

"That’s when I knew I wanted to be a Gator, so me finally being able to compete at SECs is gonna be incredible. This is the meet I’ve been looking forward to my whole life."

She and her teammates hope they can have a similar outcome this time around.

"I’ve always had great memories of SECs," Caquatto said, "and I’m excited to make more."

 Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24

Bridgette Caquatto performs her floor exercise routine during UF's win against Auburn.

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