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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

All season, the No. 4 Gators have talked about how if the team hopes to win a national title, then the gymnasts need to peak at the right time.

Sophomore Elizabeth Mahlich is doing just that.

In three of the team’s last four meets —  including the regular-season finale against No. 10 Utah and the Southeastern Conference Championships — the All-American has tied her collegiate-best of 9.875 on the uneven bars.

“She’s really starting to shine,” UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. “It’s great because this is the most important part, and most important time of the season, and to see her excelling now is exactly what we need from her.”

Mahlich hasn’t just been hitting her competitive stride on the bars recently. While her 9.875 at the SEC Championships earned her third place, she also tallied a season-high 9.85 at the meet on balance beam, the same event in which she earned second-team All-America honors as a freshman.

The recent streak of performances by Mahlich comes after a slow start to the season for her on both events.

She failed to make the lineup for beam four times this year, but  her routines in the last two meets have been two of her best this season.

And while she has made the lineup each week, her scores have shown improvement during the last month.

Mahlich made alterations in her routines earlier in the season that she said she thinks have helped her scores.

She changed her routine on the bars to what she performed last season as a freshman and added a beat jump to of her beam routine.

“She has finally found the routine composition on both events that suit her best, make her the most comfortable and that work best with her talents,” Faehn said. “I think that has given her confidence, knowing that she’s doing the skills and the routines that she feels 100 percent confident in.”

That confidence could be crucial for Mahlich and the Gators as they prepare to make a run at the national title.

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Faehn said it’s important for the team to get at least four really good scores throughout its lineups, and that doing so is what separates championship teams from contenders.

“Every team is going to have one or two great athletes, but it’s the team that has four, five or six great athletes that’s going to win the title,” Faehn said.

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