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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

If there is such thing as a home away from home, Baton Rouge, La., is not that place for the UF gymnastics team.

No. 8 UF lost its second road meet of the season, this time 196.80-195.825 to LSU on Friday.

The Tigers (7-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) dropped the Gators (3-2, 2-2 SEC) to 0-2 in road meets this season.

UF opened the meet on its strongest event, uneven bars, but didn't start as strong as it would have liked.

Due to some landing problems, the team scored a season-low 48.975 on bars. Amanda Castillo and Maranda Smith both led the team with 9.9s.

Melanie Sinclair caught her foot on her first release, bumping her score down to a 9.675. Sinclair scored a perfect 10 on the same event in the Jan. 30 meet against Kentucky.

"I honestly don't think the slow start on bars really affected us," Smith said. "We've competed for so long, and we've gone through meets where there's been slow starts. We know how to handle the situation because we have experience."

Despite the slow start on bars, the team rebounded with a 49.175 on vault, with lineup scores ranging from 9.8 to 9.85.

Sinclair had one of the team-leading 9.85s along with freshman Nicole Ellis.

"We typically depend on bars to be our go-to event - that we're really going to capitalize on getting the high scores. They came back strong on vault," UF coach Rhonda Faehn said.

The Gators moved to floor exercise, where they turned in their second-best performance of the season, a 49.325.

Corey Hartung and Smith led the lineup with 9.9s, marking Smith's second 9.9 of the night.

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Castillo also made her first appearance on floor this season. The two-time SEC floor champion has been hampered by bursitis in her ankle and hasn't performed as much as usual in order to rest up for the latter part of the season. She scored a 9.575.

"(Castillo) said she really wanted to go," Faehn said. "She had to start somewhere. I thought that was great. I thought that was really a positive step for her."

UF closed the meet on balance beam, a troublesome event for the Gators this season.

While the team didn't score remarkably high, it marked an improvement from previous weeks and the team's 48.35 was the second highest score on beam this season.

The meet was held up after the judges trimmed Courtney Gladys' beam score. Originally a 9.825 routine, Gladys had to settle for a 9.525 after the judges assessed a three-tenths neutral deduction when the springboard wasn't removed after Gladys' mount.

"The scores weren't justified," Gladys said. "I still think we, overall as a beam group, I think we did great."

While this meet marked an improvement from past meets, the team is still having consistency issues, Faehn said.

"We still are finding that we are having difficulty just putting it all together all at once," Faehn said. "We're finding that at each meet it's something different - a different mistake or a different athlete on a different event. So it's really kind of frustrating and I know it's frustrating for them."

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