Larry Vettel's Women's Sports Weekly

It was more than a little surprising to see the Florida gymnastics team post its lowest score in almost two months in the settling for fourth place at the SEC Championships. Rhonda Faehn's team had progressed steadily through the season and had posted first rate score in the last two competitions. But a season high 197.20 just eight days earlier faded to a 196.15…. and in gymnastics dropping by a full point is a huge drop.

The main culprit was probably the Gators' vaulting, which had been the team's most improved event. Florida's season-low 48.825 was .55 lower than the week before. It wasn't anything major, more like everyone added one little bobble, one slight slip, one extra half step. And those minor deductions really add up.

Florida's score at the SEC meet was the fourth lowest of the year. The bad thing is three of the four were at meets including the Georgia Bulldogs. The reason that's a bad thing is that Florida will host Georgia and four other teams at the NCAA Regional in Gainesville a week from Saturday. The "glitter girls" will have to perform at a high level with the Bulldogs looking on in order to return to the NCAA Championships.

Don't bet against them.

Nicole Haislett Honored

The University of Florida has had so many great female swimmers you can get in trouble trying to rank them… but I'm used to getting people aggravated for one reason or another. Tracy Caulkins is indisputably the greatest of them all, but right behind her has to be Nicole Haislett who won three Olympic gold medals.

Now Nicole Haislett-Bacher, the former Gator great joins Danny Wuerffel and others in this year's class for the statewide Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

The inductees traditionally have been chosen by the Florida Sportswriters and Association Florida Sportscasters Association. But there's a problem. There is no Florida Sportscasters Association. So we in the electronic world don't vote any more.

But that's not the biggest problem. No, the biggest issue is, there is no Florida Sports Hall of Fame anymore. It used to be in Lake City but financial problems led to it being shot down. So now the Hall is simply a collection of memorabilia in boxes. They will have an induction ceremony in May at Tropicana Field, which is something the honorees deserve. But what all the Hall of Fame members --- and the sports fans of Florida deserve is a real state Hall of Fame.

Maybe it can be built into the new arena the Orlando Magic is begging for.

Time to Visit Athens

This weekend will see two Gator teams facing key weekends up north against the Georgia Bulldogs. The softball team will battle Georgia for the top spot in the SEC standings with Tennessee right there in the running. The Gators need to bounce back from losing two of three to Alabama in the middle of the week. It was a great series between the eleventh-ranked Crimson Tide and 13th-rated Gators. Alabama took game one 4-3, Florida won game two 6-4 and game three went to the Tide 3-2.

Two SEC rivals, two top-twenty teams, 22 innings of softball and each team scored eleven runs.

Georgia won its first eleven SEC games and will be awfully tough to beat. The SEC as a whole seems to have five top-flight teams with Tennessee and Auburn also in the mix. Karen Johns team is 28-8, 8-2 in the league.

Meanwhile the resurgent Florida women's tennis squad will also face a tough challenge in Athens. It seems almost inane to refer to Roland Thornqvist's team as "resurgent" after just two losses. But seeing them lose two in a row is as rare as watching me pass by a buffet line. Still, Florida has won four in a row, three over ranked opponents and seem poised to reclaim their spot atop the SEC. It won't be easy, though because Georgia is ranked number four and provides quite a challenge.

Lady Gator Golfers Need Good Week

Last time out the Florida golfers finished a disappointing sixth in the Lady Gator Invitational right here in Gainesville. This weekend, Florida travels to Greensboro, North Carolina for the Bryan National. The event features nine top twenty teams, including the fourteenth-rated Gators. SEC powers Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee are also in the 17-team field for the three-day event. The Lady Gators could use a good showing to build some confidence heading into the Southeastern Conference Championship in two weeks.

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