Gymnasts Set to Begin NCAA Run
After two weeks to regroup and get healthy after a disappointing fourth-place finish at the SEC Championships the Gator gymnastics team tries to get back on the beam, literally Saturday night. Florida hosts five other squads in the NCAA Southeast Regional championships. The top two teams in the O'Connell Center will move on to the NCAA Championships in two weeks. Florida has qualified for the NCAA's 22 of 23 times, falling short only in 2000.
The field in Gainesville is a solid one, headed up by fifth-ranked Georgia and the Gators, who are number seven. Since the top two teams advance, Florida would have to fall to either #17 Denver, # 25 North Carolina or an unranked team to be kept home… and that's not going to happen.
It would be great to see Florida win the Regional title since the Gators have not done so since 1997 up in Lexington. As for winning at home… you have to go back ten more years when the 1987 Gators satisfied the home crowd by claiming a Regional Championship.
Lady Gator Golfers Take Positive Step
Just in time for next week's SEC Championship Tournament, the Lady Gator golf team posted a solid fourth place finish in North Carolina last weekend. Florida beat six ranked teams en route to the number four spot in the Bryan Invitational. The SEC Title will be decided in Tunica, Mississippi beginning on tax day, April 15.
We often talk about how the SEC is the nation's strongest conference in this sport or that one, well we have to add gold to that list. Florida is ranked #15 in the most recent poll, but that's only good enough for fifth-best among teams in the SEC. Auburn (#3), Georgia (#6), Tennessee (#10), and LSU (#14) are above UF in the coaches poll, while Arkansas (#19) makes it six SEC teams in the top 20.
Florida Coach Jill Briles-Hinton really needs a strong finish for 2005. In her six previous seasons the Lady Gators have only one top four finish at the SEC Tournament (second in '03). Florida has also failed to qualify for NCAA's three of the six seasons. They get a chance to change that history when Florida hosts the NCAA Regional tournament next month.
Tennis Team Looking More Familiar
Since losing two straight SEC matches in mid-March the Gator women's tennis team has re-established itself as a force. Roland Thornqvist's squad has reeled off six straight wins with last week's sweep of #3 Georgia and #25 Tennessee. Florida's three remaining matches are all at home and against teams the Gators should handle, giving the team excellent momentum heading into the post-season.
Thornqvist has three freshmen (Whitney Benik, Lolita Frangulyan and Alex Liles) among his six singles players so the long-term future looks pretty bright. The short term future is looking a whole lot better, too.