Boren's performance gives Gators reason to smile


Florida's Alicia Boren performs her floor routine against Georgia at the Exactech Arena.

[Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]
Published: Friday, February 24, 2017 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 10:15 p.m.

At 4-foot-11, Florida sophomore Alicia Boren is not one of the bigger gymnasts in the nation.

Facts

FRIDAY

Who:
No. 13 Missouri (8-6, 1-3 SEC) vs. No. 3 Florida (6-1, 4-1)

When: 6:45 p.m.

Where: Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center

Online: SEC Network+



Parking and parking shuttle

Fans with the season parking pass can access the O'Connell Center lot from either Gale Lemerand Drive or SW 2nd Avenue.

No parking pass? Those fans can access the O'Connell Center lot at SW 2nd Avenue.

UFPD and O'Connell Center staff will redirect fans without parking passes to SW 2nd Avenue. These attendants will be at University Avenue and Stadium Road. Fans with parking passes should be prepared to show the pass to gain access to Gale Lemerand Drive.

Another efficient option is the complimentary parking shuttle. It transports fans from the UF Commuter Lot on Gale Lemerand Drive to the O'Connell Center. For more information, visit FloridaGators.com.

Remember that the No. 2 Gator baseball team opens a three-game series with No. 21 Miami Friday at 6:30 p.m. Traffic is expected to be heavy in the O'Connell Center area. Park in legal spots to avoid UFPD tickets.

But make no mistake — as a competitor, this talented, first-team All-American stands tall.

“I've been really just working on being consistent in the gym and just taking it one skill at a time and one practice at a time,” Boren said. “I'm just taking each meet the same way. It's been really exciting.”

Boren, from Franklin Lakes, N.J., won seven event titles as a freshman in 2016 and has already claimed a team-high 10 event titles for the third-ranked Gators this season, giving her 17 (and counting) for her brief college career.

Her parents, Alice Tucker and Curt Boren, are both UF graduates who regularly attend Gator meets.

“It means the absolute world to me, and they've been there for almost every meet since I started competition,” Boren said. “I think each one of them maybe has missed one or two meets, whether it's been for my brother's graduation or whatever. Otherwise, they've been there.”

Sometimes, just being there means everything.

“To be able to hear them and see them in the crowd, it's amazing,” Boren said. “They travel from New Jersey, and it's just crazy because I know that it's expensive. For them to be able to put that much into my career throughout my childhood, and then for them to continue doing it here, I just can't think of enough words.”

UF coach Jenny Rowland says Boren, one of just two Gators to participate in every event this season, always works hard.

“She just keeps plugging along,” Rowland said. “I don't believe she has peaked yet, which is a good thing. We still have a lot of season left. But to have that consistency and know that if she goes up every time and does her job, it takes a little relief off of everybody else's shoulders just to perform and do what they can.”

While Boren, a four-time Junior Olympic National Level 10 all-around champion before coming to UF, attacks each event, she definitely has a favorite — the floor exercise.

She credits volunteer coach Jeremy Miranda for his help with the event.

“Jeremy really does take our personalities and try to bring them out in the choreography, and I've never had a routine where I smiled in all my years of gymnastics,” Boren said. “He really did a great job of getting me to smile and bring out the more happy and energetic side of me, so that is exciting.”

Boren is doing a lot of smiling these days.

She has posted a team, and personal-best score of 39.725 in the all-around this season, has four 9.95s in her last five floor routines, and has scored at least a 9.90 on six of her seven vaults, highlighted by a collegiate-best 9.95.

“I used to dance when I was younger, so that's a big part of it, too, because I love to dance,” Boren said. “But I especially love going out in front of the home crowd here at UF. They're so supportive, they're loud and their energy is amazing.”

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