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Friday, May 24, 2024

Stick it. Flash a smile. Wave to the crowd. Sprint over and embrace your teammates. Repeat three more times.

This is the routine of Florida’s crew of all-around gymnasts every time they take the floor to compete.

The Gators’ roster currently has five all-around competitors: freshmen Mackenzie Caquatto, Alaina Johnson and Brittney Noble and sophomores Ashanée Dickerson and Marissa King.

Although Dickerson began this season as the only all-arounder, she was quickly joined early this season by new regulars Caquatto and Johnson.

Both freshmen have already proved themselves to be stars on the rise.

Johnson has won the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week three times.

Recently, she was joined by Caquatto after her history-making all-around debut against Alabama.

“I don’t have one event that I’m extremely good at like some of the girls on the team,” Caquatto said. “I’m just consistent all-around for all four events.

“They aren’t all huge scores, but they’re good enough scores to be good in the all around.”

Caquatto’s 39.575 in her first performance was the highest total in an all-around debut in school history.

Dickerson, the squad’s veteran all-arounder, has competed in every event since her first meet with the Gators last year, and she has grown to love the competition because it allows flexibility.

“If you make a mistake on something, you can pick yourself back up on the next event and help the team out in a different way,” she said. “Whereas if you do just one event and you mess up, you can’t go back and redo it again.”

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Injured all-arounders King and Noble are healing quickly, and they expect to be back on the all-around roster soon.

While Noble said she is going to ease back into floor and vault in the coming weeks, King has slowly been creeping back into all four events.

She has competed in all but bars so far this season.

UF coach Rhonda Faehn said the all-around is the sport’s most exhausting position — something that poses a remarkable challenge for her athletes.

“They’re having to compete in so many events every single weekend, and it’s a lot,” she said. “It’s taxing on the all-arounders mentally and physically.

“Sometimes, they’re human, and they’re going to make mistakes, but I think that’s what competition’s all about.

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