Florida gymnastics No. 2 in preseason poll, freshmen class ranked No. 1
Florida gymnastics prepares to open the 2018 season this Friday at West Virginia, and enter the year ranked No. 2 in the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches poll. This marks the 12th consecutive year the Gators begin a season as a top-five team.
The freshman class was ranked No. 1 by CollegeGymFans.com and head coach Jenny Rowland says newcomers could make an impact as all-around gymnasts.
“We lost one senior and she was a great asset to this team but we are fortunate to bring in more freshmen," said sophomore Amelia Hundley. "We have more bodies and that’s always a great thing. Their difficulty and the way they came in and clicked with the team has been great. I think their energy and their gymnastics is gonna be a huge asset to this team.”
“The seniors have done a great job at mentoring and showing them the Florida way," Rowland added. "But they came in and really elevated the game. They came in and skills were ready, they were prepared, which made everybody else step up their game as well. I think overall the competition among the team is very competitive but still very healthy.”
Senior Alex McMurtry believes the freshmen give Florida depth that was much needed.
“When I came in as a freshman I thought the senior class was so much older, so much more mature, so it’s crazy to think that’s our class now," said 2017 Honda Award winner McMurtry. "I just try to stay as normal as possible in the gym and try to show them that nerves aren’t going to affect us in a big season. No matter if there’s a live television camera right in your face, or whatever’s going on, we’re gonna be that same normal team and we’re gonna show consistency and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Last season Florida finished in third place at the NCAA Super Six, and the upperclassmen have been prepared to fight for a better ending almost immediately after the 2017 result.
“They were hungry day one after nationals and really relayed that message to everyone on the team including this year’s incoming freshman which really shows the leadership of this team,” said Rowland.
The Gators face nine top twenty opponents during the regular season, and kick things off at 7 p.m. during a dual meet this Friday at West Virginia.