Alicia Boren isn’t one to make predictions.
But as she and her teammates head into the 2018 National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships tonight, she has placed her faith in the Gators.
“I don’t want to jinx anything,” Boren said. “But I think that if we are normal, good things will come.”
It’s hard to blame her for feeling this way. The No. 4 Gators ended their regular-season schedule with only two losses on their resume. After a disappointing third-place finish at the SEC Championships on March 24, they bounced back to come in first at the NCAA Regionals on April 7. Now, Boren and her team are looking toward a new achievement: winning an NCAA championship.
Florida needs a top-three finish at the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Missouri, tonight to advance to the NCAA Championships’ Super Six team final.
“I think the hardest team out there is going to be (ourselves),” coach Jenny Rowland said. “We just need to go out there and do what we’ve been doing.”
The Gators will begin competition at 7 p.m. on bars. Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, California and Kentucky are the other five teams in their semifinal group.
UF has made it to the Super Six 15 times in program history — including each of the last six years — and won three consecutive NCAA titles from 2013 to 2015. One senior who remembers what it’s like to win a national title is Alex McMurtry, who was a part of Florida’s most recent championship team in 2015. In what could be her last meet with the Gators, McMurtry is excited to hopefully repeat history and advance to the final stage of the event.
“This isn’t my last time competing, these aren’t my last routines,” McMurtry said. “This is just doing what I love.”
Last year, UF finished in third place at the Super Six. Tonight, the Gators will aim for a better place in the lineup, something that is possible for a team that took each event title at the NCAA Regionals, notching wins from senior Rachel Slocum and Boren on floor, Slocum on vault and McMurtry on bars, beam and all-around.
“(Rowland) tells us all the time,” Boren said, “‘Go into practice, do what you do, then just do the same thing on the competition floor.’”
This theme of normality has been something UF has lived by these past two weeks between regionals and nationals. In its final stretch of the postseason, Florida will continue that attitude.
“I just know that we need to go in there and be ourselves,” Boren said.
Follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez and contact him at email@example.com.
Junior Alicia Boren and the Florida gymnastics team are in St. Louis to compete in the NCAA Championships tonight at 7. Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, California and Kentucky are the other teams competing in UF's group.