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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Corey Hartung said after UF's win against Kentucky on Friday that one bad balance beam performance was fine, but two - referencing the team's performance against the Wildcats - was unacceptable.

The team hopes the third time is a charm to have a solid beam performance when it travels to Baton Rouge, La., to take on LSU (6-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) on Friday night.

UF (3-1, 2-1 SEC) showed improvement on beam against Kentucky from its Jan. 23 loss to Arkansas, scoring marginally higher.

Against the Razorbacks, the team scored a 47.9 on beam, its lowest beam score of the season. Against the Wildcats, the team raised the score to a 48.125.

"It's all mental," UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. "It comes down to the mental preparation. This team knows that they are a very good beam team."

In the first meet of the season, beam was actually the team's best event. UF tallied an event-high 49.25.

Beam woes since then have included occasional falls and wobbles.

"It's just a matter of knowing that, 'Hey, if someone does go out and make a mistake, it should not affect anyone else.' You still have a job to do," Faehn said.

Inconsistencies in the beam lineup have also hindered the team.

Faehn said Tuesday the beam lineup should be the same as it was for the Kentucky meet, but with one more day of practice, that could change. A different lineup would be the fifth different beam lineup in as many meets.

Junior Amanda Castillo, who is nursing bursitis in her ankle, has had a tough go at beam. Faehn said she would keep exposing Castillo, an All-American, to beam despite recent falls.

"Just to get her confidence back, (Amanda's) going to do a different beam dismount," Faehn said.

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Even Hartung, the decorated senior, wasn't immune to beam problems, falling during her beam routine in Fayetteville, Ark. She rebounded against Kentucky with a 9.9.

"Hartung's beam was back to the level of near perfection, which she's capable of," Faehn said.

Because UF is the visiting team against LSU, the order of events is different than at home meets, and beam will be the anchoring event.

Against Arkansas, a 0.525-point lead heading into beam vanished after the Gators suffered three falls.

Faehn said the struggles on beam led to a bit of lost momentum heading into floor against Kentucky.

The different order of events may help since the Gators will perform floor before beam.

Perhaps most importantly, the varying order of events means the gymnasts get to open on uneven bars, their strongest event. The team ranks No. 1 in the country on bars.

"That should be able to help the confidence level of our team," Faehn said.

She hopes to carry the momentum from bars throughout the whole meet.

In the team's most recent win against Kentucky, junior Melanie Sinclair scored a perfect 10 on bars.

Her 10 came in the middle of 9.9s posted by junior Maranda Smith and Hartung.

Overall on bars, the team scored a 49.5, tying its Jan.16 performance for the highest-scoring bar performance this season. No gymnast scored lower than a 9.8 against Kentucky.

"Our bar lineup is perhaps one of the strongest in the country," Faehn said.

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