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Monday, April 22, 2024

A lot of the attention early in this season has been on freshman Ashanée Dickerson, but another young gymnast has started to make a name for herself for the No. 3 Gators.

Freshman Marissa King is coming off her best all-around performance of the season, scoring a 39.2 against LSU last week.

Even though she has excelled early on, she is still adjusting to collegiate gymnastics.

Before enrolling at UF this semester, King was an Olympian for Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Games and also competed at the 2009 World Championships in October.

UF coach Rhonda Faehn said the ongoing transition King is making to college-level gymnastics is a challenge.

Faehn added the gymnasts don’t show much emotion and are focused on the skills at the elite level, compared to now having to learn how to perform for the crowd and judges.

 “I’m getting used to it, slowly but surely,” King said. “The more competitions you do, the more confident you get and more experience you gain in the college-side of gymnastics.”

Against LSU, King showed off her ability to work the judges and feed off the large crowd, as she scored a 9.85 on the floor, an event where high-energy routines can earn a gymnast a better score.

Faehn said King has also learned to show the emotion that international competition lacks as well as how to love the sport and enjoy doing it.

After Friday’s meet, Faehn said King told her it was the most fun she had in her entire life.

Not only is she having fun, but King has shown a definite improvement and has become more aggressive in her routines as the season has progressed, according to Faehn.

The college atmosphere has helped the freshman adjust to the NCAA competition.

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She compared the home crowd against LSU to the audience she competed in front of at the 2009 World Championships in London.

That support, combined with the bond she has made with her teammates, has translated nicely for the freshman so far this season.

Despite the challenge of the transition, King is currently ranked among the top-20 all-around gymnasts in the nation this year, with an average of 39.125 — good for 19th.

Faehn, however, knows King is just beginning to scratch the surface.

“I’ve said this a few times, but she has the potential to be a great all-around gymnast,” Faehn said. “She just has this untapped potential, but has to learn how to harness her power.”

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