Alicia Boren

Florida senior Alicia Boren became a 10-time NACGC All-American after earning the honor in floor and the all-around this season.

 

There will be no more second chances.

The Florida gymnastics team may have missed out on first place at the SEC Championships in March, but on Friday, the Gators will be one of 36 teams vying for the NCAA’s ultimate title.

The NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships has a brand-new format for the 2019 season. Eventually, eight teams will make their way to Fort Worth, Texas, for the semi-finals. In previous years, six of them would compete in the final round (formerly known as the “Super Six”). The new regulations call for only four (the “Four on the Floor”).

Here’s what UF can expect from the three other teams blocking its road to Fort Worth:

Hawkeyes, Beavers and Cardinal, oh my!

Florida received a bye week for regionals, so it’ll enter the competition in Corvallis, Oregon, during the semifinal round of the regionals.

The Gators are guaranteed to face off against two top-25 opponents in the hosting No. 15 Oregon State and No. 25 Stanford.

The Beavers, who amassed a 7-3 record during the regular season, are led by sophomore standout Kaitlyn Yanish. As well as earning first-team honors on the Pac-12 All-Conference team, Yanish was also awarded Second-Team WGCA All-American honors for her efforts on the floor this season. Aside from Yanish, Oregon State also boasts some firepower from freshman Madi Dagen and junior Isis Lowery, who both earned Second-Team Pac-12 All-Conference bids.

The Cardinal, meanwhile, doesn’t pride itself in any individual gymnast.

“We don’t have any superstars,” Stanford coach Tabitha Yim said in a release after its loss to UCLA in March. “It’s 100 percent team effort. Everyone has to step up and fulfill their roles.”

If the Cardinal doesn’t have superstars, then its next best thing is sophomore Kyla Bryant. Bryant is Stanford’s only gymnast to make an appearance on the Pac-12 All-Conference team, with second-team honors for the all-around and floor.

The Gators’ final opponent will be No, 32 Iowa, who defeated No. 33 Arizona to move into the semi-final round.

Swamping the Competition

If you’re a team outside the top 10, you have good reason to fear the Gators.

UF’s only losses on the year have come at the hands of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 8 Georgia and No. 3 LSU.

Should the Gators emerge victorious, they’ll be one step closer to experiencing the new postseason format for themselves, a prospect coach Jenny Rowland is greatly looking forward to.

“To have Four on the Floor, from a spectator’s standpoint, I think is wonderful,” Rowland said in a release. “It’ll work much better as far as TV and getting more viewers.”

Rowland and her squad have every reason to be confident. On top of its undefeated status against teams outside the top 10, UF boasts four All-Americans in freshman Trinity Thomas, senior Alicia Boren and sophomores Alyssa Baumann and Megan Skaggs. The rest of the semi-final field combined has just one. In addition, Florida’s average score across all its meets is better than any of its opponents’ season high.

UF could use a boost of confidence after its defeat at SECs, and with a weaker field to kick off NCAAs, it may just find it on Friday.

Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].

River Wells is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida women’s tennis team. He has previously covered UF swimming and diving. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.