Coach Jenny Rowland has her Florida Gators as one of the favorites to win another SEC gymnastics trophy today.
Gators ready for SEC Championship
The SEC Gymnastics Championships return to the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, and the Florida Gators are understandably excited.
Not only is UF the closest SEC school, but the last time the event was held at this venue in 2010, the Gators came away with the title.
“SECs is the best meet of the year,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “This team is really looking forward to it. I think even more important is we're looking forward to an easy travel weekend, which will be really nice for the Gators.”
Florida, ranked No. 4 nationally, is in Session II of the meet, starting at 6 p.m. today.
The Gators will be joined by No. 2 LSU, No. 6 Alabama and No. 8 Georgia.
The remaining SEC teams — No. 12 Kentucky, No. 14 Missouri, No. 21 Auburn and No. 26 Arkansas — will participate in Session I, which begins at 2 p.m.
“I actually think SECs is more exciting than NCAAs,” junior Alex McMurtry said. “It's definitely a showdown. It's going to be a tough meet and we're really excited.”
Florida, which has captured 10 SEC titles, and Alabama have taken the last eight SEC meet crowns, with UF claiming the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2016 titles while Alabama won it in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015.
There are several more reasons for the Gators to be feeling good.
For one, UF is hosting NCAA Regionals in two weeks (April 1), meaning the Gators are basically spending the last month at home.
In addition, junior Kennedy Baker, slowed for the past month with a sprained ankle, returned to action by appearing in three events against West Virginia in UF's last meet and came away with a near-perfect 9.975 on floor.
“We're expecting her to make a full comeback this weekend,” Rowland said.
McMurtry, who has three 10s this year (vault, uneven bars and floor), also appears ready to step it up.
“I think coming off of the last home meet, we're really excited,” McMurtry said. “We're really fired up. We're focusing on putting it all together. I think this is the first time this season we have everybody in the lineup that we want, and we are going to come out full force.”
Freshman Amelia Hundley is pumped.
“I'm really looking forward to competing with all the girls,” she said. “I heard it's a lot of fun and a lot of energy, and I think if we just stay in our bubble and focus on ourselves and do what we know how to do, we'll really build off that energy. It should be a really good meet.”
Rowland echoed those sentiments.
“I'm looking forward to the support,” she said. “It's going to be a great weekend in Jacksonville. We've got a lot of followers, a lot of friends and families coming, and that always really excites the girls.”
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