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Saturday, May 18, 2024
<p><span>Junior Alaina Johnson performs her routine on the balance beam during Florida’s 196.575-190.55 victory against Ball State on Jan. 4 in the O’Connell Center. Johnson competed for the first time since Jan. 18 at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday.</span></p>
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Junior Alaina Johnson performs her routine on the balance beam during Florida’s 196.575-190.55 victory against Ball State on Jan. 4 in the O’Connell Center. Johnson competed for the first time since Jan. 18 at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday.


Dealing with injuries is part of the gig. Replacing production, however, isn’t all that easy. 

In Florida’s last two dual meets, it dealt with the losses of All-Americans Kytra Hunter and Alaina Johnson to injuries. 

But against No. 19 Arkansas last Friday, Florida (4-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) posted the nation’s second highest total with a 197.575 despite both gymnasts’ absence.

The Gators set season-high marks on both floor and beam.

Randy Stageberg pinned a 9.9 on beam to jump start the rotation. Coach Rhonda Faehn said Stageberg’s performance was the senior’s best showing this season. 

“Finishing on balance beam at a road competition is a high-pressure situation,” Faehn said.

“You always want your athletes to go out and compete aggressively no matter what happens, and they did that starting from Randy.”

Faehn applauded her gymnasts’ efforts to fill increased roles while Johnson and Hunter fought through injuries during the last two meets.

Johnson has been inactive since Jan. 18 with a stress reaction in her back.

Faehn said the team is monitoring her situation on a weekly basis but fully expects her to be available in three weeks.

Hunter, on the other hand, has a better outlook.

Faehn expects Hunter to compete in all four events against Alabama on Friday at 7 p.m. in the O’Connell Center. Hunter performed exclusively on bars versus Arkansas due to a ligament strain in her ankle.

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Despite Hunter’s limitations with her ankle, Faehn suggested that the sophomore could have been called upon to compete in additional events if necessary. 

“For [Hunter], it’s a matter of making sure — and it is for every one of our gymnasts, they’re all battling things — it’s a matter of making sure every meet that we are able to rest some while others step up,” Faehn said. 

In spite of a limited lineup, the Gators posted scores of 49.450 and 49.275 on beam and floor, respectively, against the Razorbacks. Bridget Sloan earned the evening’s beam title while Marissa King recorded a season-high 9.9. 

“Marissa was very reminiscent of every single one of her routines she competed (in) last year,” Faehn said.

Faehn was pleased with the number of stuck landings registered against Arkansas. 

“I know I have been saying that a lot, but really each meet it gets a little better and better,” Sloan said. 

With five consecutive meets against ranked opponents scheduled before the SEC Championships begin on March 23 in Little Rock, Ark., Faehn wants her gymnasts dialed in. 

“Looking into Friday’s competition, our athletes know that our goal is to go out there and really only, once again, compete against ourselves,” Faehn said. “Obviously, Alabama will be there but we cannot focus on them or control what they’re going to do on the competition floor.”

Junior Alaina Johnson performs her routine on the balance beam during Florida’s 196.575-190.55 victory against Ball State on Jan. 4 in the O’Connell Center. Johnson competed for the first time since Jan. 18 at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday.


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