The Gators’ quest for their first national championship is nearing the postseason.
With Florida three weeks away from competing in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships in Little Rock on March 23, coach Rhonda Faehn has juggled her lineups recently to help ensure the Gators stay healthy and do not peak too soon.
In Florida’s 196.975-196.075 victory against No. 23 Kentucky on Friday, Faehn did not have a gymnast compete in all four events for the first time since Feb. 18, 2011.
“We didn’t have any all-around (gymnasts) in the meet, and that was kind of an interesting dynamic,” Faehn said. “I think part of that was a challenge for those athletes when they’re used to being out there quite a bit.”
It was likely the final time Faehn will rest her squad given the landscape of the next few weeks.
All-American Ashanee Dickerson was withheld from the vault rotation for the first time during her regular-season career.
Dickerson had competed in 46 consecutive vault events prior to Friday night’s meet.
Marissa King competed in each rotation with the exception of balance beam, where she performed exhibition. King had competed all-around in two of the last three meets.
“I’m really glad that Rhonda did rest me this week, because being a senior, I really want to cherish every competition moment I get,” King said.
Without a handful of its strongest competitors performing in each event, UF produced its lowest team score since registering a 196.575 against LSU on Jan. 11.
Three consecutive miscues on beam forced the Gators to count a fall towards their final score of 48.525.
“It caused a few issues,” Faehn said. “But at the same time, they’re tremendous competitors, so they need to know how to do that and learn how to deal with adjustments here and there.”
With the gymnasts given the weekend off to recoup, Faehn is certain her team is ready for the postseason.
When Florida travels to face No. 8 Utah on March 16 in Salt Lake City for the final regular-season meet of the year, the lineups should reflect those Faehn will use in both the SEC and NCAA Championships barring injury.
The Gators are still without All-American Alaina Johnson, who is nursing a lower-back injury suffered on Jan. 18 against Missouri.
Johnson competed all-around in 10 of 14 meets in 2012 and was expected to do much of the same this season.
Faehn met with trainers on Monday to discuss the extent of Johnson’s injury.
“I believe she is seeing our personal trainer and our back specialist,” Faehn said.
“She’s perhaps one more week out, and then we’re hoping she’ll be cleared to do some things.”
Coach Rhonda Faehn talks to freshman Bridget Sloan before her performance on beam during Florida’s 197.3-194.625 victory against Missouri on Jan. 18 in the O’Connell Center.