Larry Vettel's Women's Sports Weekly

One of the best things about Florida's success as an all-sports powerhouse is that every season brings with it new promise and possibilities. Just when you think a program may be in a "rebuilding mode" the team steps up and shows that not to be the case.

The Florida softball team struggled in the second half of the 2004 season trying to compensate for the loss of ace pitcher Jenny Gladding. The Gators lost 14 of their last 20 and even though Florida reached the NCAA Tournament, there was every reason to expect Karen John's team to have more than its share of problems this year.

Well, if the early returns are any indication, Florida has no such concerns. The Gators are 7-0 for the first time in school history and won the Clearwater Invitational last weekend. The Gators already have set a school record with a 3-0 win over number four Oklahoma. That's the highest ranked team the Gators have ever beaten.

Florida is led by Sophomore Melissa Zick from Tampa who is hitting at an absurd .467 clip with 9 RBI in seven games. The Gators are also going to be fun to watch, as evidenced by 27 stolen bases in 30 tries. They host the GRU Invitational Tournament this weekend, but there will be plenty of chances to see this team through the season.

Tracksters Getting It Done

It's early February and already Florida throwing superstar Candice Scott has been chosen SEC Female Track Athlete of the Week twice. Scott earned a second place spot in the Millrose games, facing Olympic caliber competition and added a win in the Gator invitational. Meanwhile Florida sophomore runner Tiandra Ponteen broke the O'Dome record for the 400 meters. That's a pretty remarkable feat considering the O'Connell Center has hosted the SEC indoors on multiple occasions.

SEC Diving, Then Swimming in O'Dome

In a scheduling oddity the SEC Diving and Swimming Championships are on consecutive weekends in Gainesville. Because of the size and design of the O'Dome pool complex, it is not feasible to have the entire meet in Gainesville at one time. So the top divers in the SEC will compete this weekend before the simmers take over the pool next week.

I actually like this set up and, believe Swimming and Diving should be independent sports. Other than water the two have nothing in common. So why not let each school have two or three diving scholarships for men and women and let diving be its own endeavor? My experience is that fans who like diving are not into swimming all that much and vice versa. Creating a split would stabilize funding for the diving programs and let swim coaches concentrate on precisely that. It might cost a few bucks, but so what?!

Sky's The Limit For Glitter Girls

The Gator gymnasts have spoken loud and clear… they are here to win. Florida's win AT Georgia ended more than two decades of frustration against the Gym Dogs and when coupled with the two wins over Alabama make it clear this team has everything it needs to win at either SEC's or NCAA's. the Georgia win also showed some moxie, as Florida trailed after two rotations, took the lead with a great floor exercise rotation in front of a less than enthusiastic crowd and then held on for dear life on the balance beam. Samantha Lutz was super clutch for Florida, posting a clinching 9.75 on the final routine of the night.

Looking ahead, Florida will host the NCAA Southeast Regional on April 9 and Georgia is certain to be part of the field. It's the same night at the Orange and Blue game… so you tailgate, check out Urban Meyer's team in action, tailgate some more and watch great gymnastics. Not a bad day.


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