Maegan Chant was ready.
It was her first opportunity to compete in front of the Florida home crowd at the O’Connell Center, a venue that consistently attracts elite gymnasts like her to Gainesville because of the passionate fan base.
And she had them cheering when she started off the Jan. 13 meet with two solid routines on bars and vault, earning two 9.850s.
“The first part of the competition was really good,” Chant said. “Just being able to compete in the O’Dome with all our fans was amazing.”
But while the former Canadian National Team member had prior experience competing in important meets, the pressure of performing in front of more than 7,600 became too much heading into the last rotation on floor.
In the previous meet against N.C. State, she had stepped out of bounds.
This time, on the same tumbling pass — a front tuck step out to double tuck — it was even worse.
She bounced out of bounds onto her back at the feet of Gators assistant coach Adrian Burde.
As she saluted the judges to finish off the routine, the normally energetic gymnast looked disconsolate and disappointed, trying to keep her emotions at bay.
“Even though it ended bad, I learned from it,” Chant said on Tuesday.
The Waterdown, Ontario, native was held out of the next four lineups, until last week when she was given the chance to redeem herself on bars and vault on the road at then-No.23 Arkansas.
With her teammates already hitting their stride, having to compete after weeks on the sidelines wasn’t easy.
“To have that time off and get back, it’s very difficult,” Florida coach Jenny Rowland said. “There’s always room for improvement, but she did a fabulous job.”
Tonight, Chant, along with the rest of the No. 3 Gators (6-1, 3-1 SEC), will look to remain undefeated at home when they host No. 15 Missouri (8-6, 1-3 SEC).
And though Florida is coming off a win against the Razorbacks, there are still areas where the team wants to improve.
Alex McMurtry, who plans on competing in the all-around, is hoping to rebound after a tough meet on floor.
“I knew it was going to be difficult,” McMurtry said. “But I’m still excited to be back on floor. … Yeah, it wasn’t the best meet, kind of embarrassing falling, but what can you do?”
As for Chant, she is just hoping she gets another shot to perform in front of the home crowd.
“I’ve taken every opportunity that I can get,” Chant said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time, one meet at a time.”