Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Gymnast Vaults into Spotlight; White Grad Dickerson Will Perform in Front of Home Crowd Saturday

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Gymnast Vaults into Spotlight; White Grad Dickerson Will Perform in Front of Home Crowd Saturday

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - Ashanee Dickerson was part of Florida's top-ranked freshman gymnastics class, but the Jacksonville native had low expectations for her first season.

"I just wanted to compete," she said.

Turns out she was setting the bar exceptionally low.

The White High School graduate has put together one of the top freshman seasons in school history.

Dickerson leads No. 4 Florida with 18 event titles - including six all-around titles - and is ranked in the top 20 nationally in three events.

Her surprising performance is part of the reason the Gators are among the favorites to win Saturday's Southeastern Conference championships at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

"It's more than I've ever expected," Dickerson said. "I just kind of come in the gym and do what I do, try to correct what they tell me to correct, and then just go out to the meet and perform like I do in the gym."

Dickerson made an impact immediately. She won the all-around title at Florida's first three meets of the season (Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky) and the vault at the first two).

Dickerson called her performance against Oklahoma a dream come true, because she has been in love with Florida gymnastics from the time she was 8 years old, two years after she began taking gymnastics at Gymnastics Unlimited.

She attended camps at Florida and said she was awestruck when UF coach Rhonda Faehn offered her a scholarship. That turned to nervousness when she first arrived in Gainesville, because she wasn't sure how well she would adjust in the boost in the level of competition, but Dickerson said she knew she would be OK after the first few practices.

"My first meet I was really nervous about what the other teams were going to look like," Dickerson said. "After the first meet was over, I was OK."

More than OK. How about one of the SEC's top gymnasts? She won the league's Freshman of the Week award five times and the Gymnast of the Week award once. …

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