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Saturday, May 18, 2024

In the last two weeks, UF has fallen on the bars, on the floor and in the rankings.

The Gators dropped to No. 3 in the national rankings after losing to Georgia two weeks ago and falling twice against Auburn last week.

If the Gators are to beat up-and-coming No. 9 Arkansas on Friday, they will need to fix those mistakes.

Against Georgia, falls on the uneven bars by Ashley Reed and Nicola Willis cost UF the meet. Then last week, Amanda Castillo fell on the bars as Rebekah Zaiser and Courtney Gladys fell on the floor event, but the Gators still pulled out a win over Auburn.

In practice, the Gators have been working on being more consistent and concentrating more on their routines.

"We haven't really had our minds focused on what we need to do at the time," Melanie Sinclair said. "We are training hard and doing all the right things in practice, so we just need to be focused during competition."

The falls are unusual of Gators gymnastics teams. Before the struggles of the last two weeks, UF had not had a counted fall since Jan. 20, 2006.

Even though falling is disappointing, the Gators gymnasts try not to think about the mistake and try to still put together a good performance.

"The last thing you want to think is 'Oh my gosh, I fell, I got .5 off,'" Sinclair said. "You have to think about that you still have a routine to finish, or wherever you are in the routine you still have to finish, you still have to put on a good performance."

The next time the Gators who fell compete, they will have to try and clear their minds of any thoughts of the fall.

"You try to keep a clean mind and start over," Castillo said.

UF coach Rhonda Faehn said she doesn't expect the falls to affect the athletes in the future.

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One of the causes of the falls had been the young, inexperienced lineup Faehn put out for last week's meet.

This week, she will have UF's best gymnasts competing.

"We are going to put in our strongest lineup this weekend; we had the opportunity to rest them last weekend, especially Melanie and Nicola," Faehn said. "We gave them a good rest, so we are looking to get them out in front of our home crowd again and put on a good performance against Arkansas."

UF will need solid performances from all its athletes if it is to beat an Arkansas team that is at its highest ranking is school history.

Since Arkansas' gymnastics program started in 2003, the Gators have dominated the Razorbacks, winning every meeting between the two - UF is 15-0 all-time against them.

The Gators might have one of their best athletes competing at less than 100 percent, as Castillo has been affected by pinkeye this week.

If Castillo can't perform at her best, UF will need some of the other gymnasts to step up.

Even with Castillo and their best lineup on the floor, the Gators will have to avoid falls if they are to retake the No. 1 ranking.

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