Amelia Hundley is excited for a fresh start heading into postseason action. After competing in 10 regular season meets over the past three months, the sophomore isn’t anxious heading into the SEC Championships on Saturday. She’s ready.
“These last two weeks, the team has been busting their butts off,” Hundley said. “We’ve been working really hard to be prepared for this moment.”
In its last meet on March 9, the Florida gymnastics team wrapped up regular-season action with a 197.925-196.700 win over Nebraska. UF is ranked No. 5 in the nation and enters the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis as the No. 2 seed in the SEC, trailing only LSU. Florida has finished third or better in the SEC Championships every year since 2005.
The team is hoping to make up for a second-place finish in last year’s meet — losing to LSU by 0.250 — but is heading into Saturday's competition with a humble mindset.
“We don’t really go in saying we should win this,” Hundley said. “But obviously I think that's the end goal for everyone.”
The Gators (8-2, 5-2 SEC) will have to adjust to one facet of the competition, however. The SEC Championships take place on an elevated podium, something Florida doesn’t compete on in the regular season.
“The majority of these athletes have actually competed on podium most of their entire life,” coach Jenny Rowland said. “So they actually thrive and enjoy it.”
Both of Florida’s losses this season came against SEC opponents. The first was in the team’s home opener against LSU on Jan. 12 when UF fell to the Tigers by 0.125 points. The Gators also came up short against Missouri on March 2, just a week after 11-time All-American Kennedy Baker tore her right Achilles tendon to end her collegiate career.
As the weekend creeps closer, UF is looking forward to the SEC Championships as a time to clean the slate and start anew.
“The coaches always told us it's an even playing field once you hit the postseason,” Hundley said. “It's like a brand new start.”
Florida starts off its rotation with LSU, Kentucky and Alabama. It will begin the competition on uneven bars at 7 p.m.
“It's another competition, another step in the process,” Rowland said. “Gators are ready.”
SEC Gymnastics Championships
Who: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri
Where: Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis
When: Saturday starting at 3 p.m.
Sophomore Amelia Hundley said she's looking forward to the start of the SEC Championships on Saturday. “It's like a brand new start," she said.