The Gators received a Christmas present eight days early.
The team received its third ever No. 1 ranking in the Women’s College Gymnastics Association preseason poll. The previous two times Florida landed that coveted spot, it was a good omen for the season ahead. The 2014 and 2015 teams, which were also ranked No. 1, finished as National Champions.
Florida narrowly grabbed the No. 1 ranking, receiving the same amount of first-place votes as Oklahoma. Both schools finished the shortened 2020 season undefeated.
The WCGA preseason poll is voted on by 34 coaches, and each team ranked in the top 25 earns points based on where they are ranked. The coaches’ who ranked Michigan and Denver No. 1 had to settle a tie between the Gators and the Sooners.
“The Gators are most thankful that we have an opportunity to get out and compete again this year for our fans, for Gator Nation and for NCAA Gymnastics,” coach Jenny Rowland said about the ranking.
LSU, Utah and Michigan round out the WCGA preseason top five.
Rowland’s squad will have 10 returning gymnasts, including seniors Alyssa Baumann and Megan Skaggs and juniors Savannah Schoenherr and Trinity Thomas, who have 18 All-American nominations combined.
To replace the four seniors who graduated, Rowland signed Chloi Clark, Gabrielle Gallentine, Ellie Lazzari and Alex Magee, who all have experience competing at the Junior Olympics. The four freshmen are expected to fill the void left by Rachel Gowey, Amelia Hundley, Sierra Alexander and Megan Chant.
The Gators kick off their 2021 eight-meet, conference-only campaign Jan. 8 against the No. 14 Tigers in Auburn, Alabama. They’ll return to the O’Connell Center to take on No. 10 Georgia a week later.
All of the opponents Florida is slated to face are ranked in the top 16 of the WGCA preseason poll.
Contact Zachary Huber at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @zacharyahuber