Jenny Rowland was the epitome of positivity on Wednesday. As she led the Florida gymnastic team’s practice, the third-year coach showed no sign of worry, instead displaying confidence in the wake of UF's 197.250-197.125 home loss to LSU on Jan. 12.
“I’m not one to look back and dwell from day to day,” Rowland said.
The odds were all lined up in favor of the Florida gymnastics team. After coming off a first…
Florida (1-1, 0-1 SEC) will face Kentucky (5-0, 1-0 SEC) tonight at the Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, looking to rebound from its conference-opening defeat to the Tigers at a sold-out O’Connell Center, the first in program history.
The loss to LSU featured some stumbles for UF. Senior Rachel Slocum didn’t register a score on her first attempt at vault, freshman Megan Skaggs fell during her uneven bars routine and multiple gymnasts ended their events with shaky landings.
Rowland was well aware of those mistakes, noting the team needs to work on finishing its routines strong.
“That’s a big takeaway from this last competition,” Rowland said.
Kentucky enters tonight with its own experience in front of a sold-out venue. It opened its season with wins against Ball State, George Washington and Southeast Missouri before a crowd of 10,006 at Rupp Arena on Jan. 5. The team features two All-Americans, including 2017 SEC Freshman of the Year Mollie Korth, who took all-around, vault and floor wins in the Wildcats last match against Arkansas on Jan. 12.
As the Gators hit the road for their third meet of the season, Rowland said the team needs to do what it has done all spring: have fun.
“When this team has fun, it shows,” Rowland said. “They’re a little more relaxed, and they can transfer what they’re doing in the gym out on the competition floor a lot better.”
At each meet, the team can be seen dancing to each other’s floor routines and supporting each other across all events. Following its defeat to LSU, Florida wasn't brought down by the result. Instead, its gymnasts strutted into the post-match press conference with the attitude of winners.
“Team chemistry is one of our biggest assets that we have this year,” Slocum said.
Florida is led by seniors Slocum, Alex McMurtry and Kennedy Baker. As seasoned veterans of the ups and downs of the regular season, the three Gators are leaving the LSU loss behind them and now aim to bring home another win on the road.
“It’s like fire to the fuel,” Baker said. “Like ‘wow this is the last time, so I want it to be the best time and the best one that I can possibly do each meet.’”