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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

While prepping for practice in the locker room earlier this week, it hit them.

“The girls were saying, ‘We only have two more meets left, then it’s postseason,’” sophomore Ashanée Dickerson said. “It’s gone by super fast. A lot faster than last year.”

The Florida gymnastics team is a mere two meets away from tackling postseason competition, as the Southeastern Conference Championships and NCAA Regionals kick off in mid-March.

Tonight, the Gators get one step closer to capping their regular season by traveling to Arkansas for their last SEC meet of the regular season. 

The squad holds an undefeated record with eight meets under its belt, and freshman all-arounder Alaina Johnson is starting to feel the grind of the long season.

“I’ve never competed every weekend,” she said. “It’s starting to actually come to me that the season is coming to the end just because my body is feeling it also. My mind is.

“My whole body is worn out.”

However, Johnson said sitting out from the all-around spot the last two meets has helped re-energize her. She is ready to compete again tonight as an all-arounder.

The coaching staff rested what Faehn called her “heavy hitters” in last weekend’s double competition, allowing other gymnasts to step up to the plate.

While Johnson and Mackenzie Caquatto only participated in two or three events, freshman walk-ons Lauren Rose and Jade Wiggins were given the opportunity to compete for the first time in their college careers.

After allowing the other gymnasts a chance to get their feet wet in the Auburn and West Virginia meets, Faehn said the regular lineups will be back in play against the Razorbacks.

“We’re putting people in there that we would hope and expect them to hit, but we have mistakes here and there, and that’s frustrating from a coach’s standpoint,” Faehn said.  “We’re used to being on this roll. We’re going to get back to that.”

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The coaching staff has already allowed Dickerson, a two-time All-American, to rest from all-around twice this season, something she said will benefit her because she won’t be too tired when the postseason rolls around.

Caquatto said the team has focused on eating right and getting enough sleep to make the most of its time in the gym to prepare for the heavy collection of meets.

“In the gym, we’ve been just focusing on details and cheering and giving 100 percent even if you don’t have 100 percent to give,” Caquatto said.

“We’re still recovering from getting back over the double weekend and focusing honestly on only Arkansas,” Faehn added. “Then, it’s going to be only about Utah, and then we have the week off before SECs, and it’s about prepping and getting ready for that.”

Though the gymnasts are trying to stay focused, they’re still getting pumped up by looking at what lies ahead. 

“It’s really, really exciting,” Caquatto said.  “But I can’t rush myself.

“We’re not there yet. I still need to stay focused on what’s at hand and what’s going on right now.”

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