Timing is everything.
In sports, competition is as much about getting hot at the right time as it is about sustaining success.
Shoot out of the gates, and you run the risk of peaking too early. Cool off too soon, and a potential postseason run becomes difficult.
In spite of its recent victories, UF’s gymnastics team is managing just fine.
Opening their third consecutive title-defense campaign at a blistering pace, the Gators (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) have convincingly clinched their first four meets of the season.
Improving upon the prior week’s point total in all but one contest, they managed to post the nation’s highest team score last Friday, notching a 198.175 — the seventh-highest score in program history — against the visiting then-No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide.
The No. 1 Gators average 197.438 points per meet — tops in the country and .253 points higher than second-ranked Oklahoma — and have lost just two events out of 20 by a combined .100 points.
Individually, Florida’s gymnasts rank in the top two nationally across all five categories while winning all but one individual event title to date.
The Gators are on a tear, but according to coach Jenny Rowland, the best is yet to come.
"Scores are awesome, but really I think what I like to look at is (that)...we’re competing against ourselves and making sure that we’re on task," she said on Monday. "We’re doing what we can in order to move forward and peak. I don’t feel like we’ve peaked by any means."
With six meets to go before postseason play, the Gators will need to continue trending upward if they hope to finish undefeated for the first time since the 2007 regular season.
And, slated to take on five current top-25 teams, they’ll need to save their best for last.
However, they aren’t particularly worried. For a squad in the midst of another historic campaign, Florida is content with being normal, taking solace in knowing everything will fall into place.
"Stressing normalcy in the gym takes the pressure off of the athletes to just be able to do what they know how to do," Rowland said. "When you stress perfection, your mind takes over and that’s when the mistakes are gonna start happening. … I see a level of confidence just continuing to build and build and build, and I hope that continues throughout the rest of the season."
Contact Alejandro Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ajlb95.
Coach Jenny Rowland fist-bumps gymnast Alex McMurtry prior to McMurtry’s uneven parallel bars during Florida’s win against Alabama on Jan. 29, 2016, in the O’Connell Center.