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Andrew Prezioso | NCAA.com | April 18, 2014

Prezioso: Gators take first step in title defense

They're back
After winning last year's title in Los Angeles, Florida finds itself in a familiar spot seeking to win back-to-back titles. Four weeks ago, the Gators took second at the SEC championships, which also were held in Birmingham, Ala. -- site of this year's NCAA championship.

The perfect selfie
Before starting their warmups, the Gators take a moment to take a group picture.

Time for work
In the day's third warmup session, Florida's first rotation was at the vault. The Gators get some stretching in before starting.

Flying through the air
Florida advanced to the NCAA championships by winning the University Park Regional title on April 5. At the regional, the Gators recorded a meet-high 49.55 score on the vault.

Going with chalk
After completing their 20-minute practice session with the vault, the Gators headed to the uneven bars.

Just hanging in there
The uneven bars were another strength for the Gators during their regional meet. Their score of 49.55 was once again a meet high.

Perfect arch
The balance beam was where the Gators struggled a bit at the NCAA regional meet. For the first time this season, Florida saw two gymnasts record misses.

Enjoying the show
A small group of Gators fans followed the gymnasts during their rotations on Thursday. Come Friday, the stands at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center are expected to be filled with mostly Alabama fans.

It's going down
Florida's final rotation on Thursday put the Gators at the floor exercise. Florida's Kytra Hunter won the event at the NCAA regional with a score of 9.95.

Last pieces of advice
Florida will compete in Friday's second session, along with Nebraska, Penn State, UCLA, Utah and Alabama. The top three squads from that session will advance to Saturday's finals.

 

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