Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dickerson, UF Win SEC Meet; Gators Gymnasts Rebound from Shaky Start to Topple Alabama

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dickerson, UF Win SEC Meet; Gators Gymnasts Rebound from Shaky Start to Topple Alabama

Article excerpt

Byline: FRANCINE KING

The University of Florida rebounded from a surprisingly shaky start on vault, finishing with the top score in each of its final three events, to win the Southeastern Conference gymnastics championships on Saturday.

The Gators finished with 197.05 points to unseat reigning champion Alabama in front of 5,628 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

The Crimson Tide finished with 196.875 points, edging third-place Georgia (196.825).

Florida, which last won the SEC title in 2007, opened Saturday's competition on vault, posting the fourth-highest team total.

"That was probably one of our worst vault performances of the year starting out," Gators coach Rhonda Faehn said. "Instead of our athletes looking at that and saying, 'Oh my goodness, we've already lost. We don't have a chance.' They dug deeper.

"They came out on bars and just were on fire, going for everything. Then, carrying that momentum over to beam ... they were so aggressive. ... I could just see the passion that each and every one of them put forth in their routine."

Jacksonville native Ashanee Dickerson provided a large share of that passion - much to the delight of her hometown fans. The White High graduate, who was named the 2010 SEC freshman of the year, finished second in the all-around competition, 0.05 points behind Alabama sophomore Ashley Priess (39.5).

"She's been a machine all year long, somebody that we could always say, 'We know she's going to hit,' " Faehn said of Dickerson, who picked the right time to continue that trend Saturday.

During Florida's beam rotation, freshman Liz Green uncharacteristically fell twice from the apparatus. Dickerson's performance followed - and it was virtually flawless, earning a 9.925, her highest score of the meet.

"I never watch the routines before I go," Dickerson said. "I just go through my routine in my head. ... I knew I had to stick the dismount."

Dickerson's beam score was the second highest of the meet for that event behind Priess, who won the individual beam title with a 9.95. Georgia's Grace Taylor tied Dickerson's 9.925 on beam.

"For Ashanee to go up after [Green fell], I just looked into her eyes and I could see that she was going to hit," Faehn said. …

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