Maranda Smith has been through a lot in her college career, which was thought to have ended in April.
But now the four-time All-American has one more chance to vie for a national title after the NCAA granted her a sixth year of eligibility Wednesday.
“I’m so grateful that the NCAA granted me another year of eligibility,” Smith said. “I’m really looking forward to competing with my Gator teammates again and having another chance to compete in front of the O’Connell Center fans is truly a gift.”
Smith began her college career at UCLA, where she made it through two meets before a stress fracture in her right shin caused her to miss the rest of her freshman season and have a metal rod inserted into her shin.
After transferring to Florida in 2008, Smith tore her right labrum, but competed through the pain before having surgery on the shoulder prior to last season, which was expected to be her senior year.
Last season, Smith was second on the team to then-freshman Ashanée Dickerson with nine event titles – five on the uneven bars and two each on vault and floor – en route to being named a first-team All-American on the bars.
Smith’s return is a great advantage for UF, which now returns 10 gymnasts from last year’s Southeastern Conference championship squad that placed first at the NCAA North Central Regional in Salt Lake City and fifth at the NCAA Championships.
“We’re very excited for Maranda that she has been granted a sixth year of eligibility,” UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. “Maranda is a great leader and competitor. I’m sure the Gators fans will enjoy seeing her compete for another year.”