Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Gators may have finally found the solution to their uneven bars problem.

After the first meet of the season, No. 3 UF (6-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) hadn't been able to put together a championship score in the event.

Then came Friday's meet against LSU when Coach Rhonda Faehn decided to return freshman Alicia Goodwin to the lineup for the first time since the opening meet.

Goodwin led UF with the highest opening score of the season (9.875), and the team only continued to improve from there, finishing with the third-highest bars total in school history.

Faehn had Goodwin competing in exhibitions in the five meets between her two performances to allow the freshman to gain more experience and heal an ankle injury.

"She did start out great at the beginning of the year but then struggled just a little bit," Faehn said. "She became timid and not as aggressive, and we really wanted to give her more opportunities to kind of feel her way in.

"She needed to learn a little bit of a lesson about how you train in the gym is how you are going to perform in the meet."

The decision to put Goodwin back in the lineup came after she showed more consistency in her workouts and more confidence in her exhibitions in recent weeks.

Her hard work was evident immediately in Friday's meet as she put together a strong routine, and Faehn will look for the newcomer to continue to get better with her newfound knowledge.

"If she just continues in that path of training well, she will have a great opportunity to be in our lineup," Faehn said.

Goodwin needs to use Friday's upcoming meet at North Carolina and the Gators' two other remaining regular-season competitions to get valuable practice in pressure situations if she is going to be ready to perform in championship meets in just more than a month.

"I trust Alicia that in the more repetitions she does with beautiful bar swing and great form and execution, I will feel confident she will be able to take on (leadoff) role," Faehn said.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Although Goodwin has displayed that she can compete at a high level, she didn't expect to be counted on to start UF off on the bars so soon in her career.

"It was a bit of a surprise, but I'm here to do what they want me to do," Goodwin said.

Since she is only a freshman, there are some concerns about how Goodwin will respond to difficult conditions that could come up during the next few meets.

Goodwin will look towards some of the more veteran gymnasts on the team to push her and give her support.

"It's a challenge (to keep up with older girls), but I like it," Goodwin said. "Everyone is so good on the team, and we just try to make each other better."

Some of the more battle-tested gymnasts such as Ashley Reed, Corey Hartung, Melanie Sinclair and Amanda Castillo will be looked to if Goodwin does encounter a youthful mistake.

And if Goodwin does struggle in the meet against UNC, she knows which veteran teammate she will go to for advice.

"I've always looked up to Corey (Hartung), so I just talk to her when I need to, and she just gives me words of encouragement."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.