No chomp, no problem

The Gator gymnastics team solved the problem of booing Bulldogs.

Published February 1, 2007

GAINESVILLE - In the end, the joke was on Georgia.

When the UF gymnastics team, ranked No. 1 by GymInfo, traveled to Athens on Saturday to compete against No. 2 and two-time defending champ Georgia, UF coach Rhonda Faehn and her gymnasts had a little trick up their sleeves.

You see, normally, the Gator gymnasts incorporate the "Gator Chomp" somewhere into their floor routines. But the last time Florida was in Athens, the chomp sent the Bulldogs fans into a frenzy. They booed incessantly, drowning out the music and making it nearly impossible for the gymnasts to complete their routines.

"It's not fun, if you can imagine," Faehn said. "In gymnastics, you spend you whole life and career to basically get out there and perform. So it would be like somebody on stage acting and all the sudden they get booed off the stage."

So the Gators decided to turn the tables and secretly removed the chomp from their routines. No chomp, no boos.

"It actually turned out kind of fun," Faehn said. "That's all Georgia fans were looking forward to. There was an article in the paper about how they were going to boo the Gator chomp. And our girls, we were laughing inside because we knew we weren't going to do it. And their student section came early and they were ready and they had nothing to boo. So we stole their thunder."

Hitting for a cause

The baseball team will host its annual Home Run Derby this weekend to raise funds for the Children's Miracle Network at Shands. The event begins at 1 p.m. Sunday and will include an autograph session with the players. Each player will have nine outs to hit as many home runs as possible an out consists of anything that does not leave the ballpark in fair territory, and fans may pledge money for each homer. To make a pledge, call the Children's Miracle Network at (352) 265-7953.

Little expectations

In their preseason poll, the SEC's baseball coaches picked the Gators to finish last in the East. After reaching the national title game in 2005, Florida went 10-20 (28-28 overall) for sixth in the East last season. The Gators open the season Feb. 9 at home against VMI. South Carolina and Arkansas were picked to win the East and West, respectively.

Ross' return

Former women's basketball coach Carol Ross returns to the O'Connell Center tonight when the Gators host Mississippi at 7. The Bulldogs (16-6, 5-2 SEC) have won seven of their past nine but are on a two-game conference losing streak. Florida (6-16, 0-7) is winless in conference play and is on a nine-game losing streak.

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com Check out her blog at blogs.tampabay.com/gators.