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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
<p>Bridget Sloan performs a beam routine during Florida’s 197.525-196.025 win against Arkansas on Feb. 14 in the O’Connell Center.</p>

Bridget Sloan performs a beam routine during Florida’s 197.525-196.025 win against Arkansas on Feb. 14 in the O’Connell Center.

A week off gave Florida gymnasts exactly what they need to regroup after an unexpected second-place finish at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Championship.

“It’s been wonderful, it was definitely needed. We were able to give them kind of a down time after coming back from SECs so kind of a few days break from doing full routines,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “When you’ve been doing them for three and a half months straight, it get’s a little tiring.”

To give them a mental and physical break, Faehn had her gymnasts practice skill work instead of repeating full routines at the start of last week.

“They were charged up again when we went really hard on Friday and Saturday, and back with full routines again,” Faehn said. “Those were the best practices we’ve had the entire year.”

She added that the focus and determination also came through in Florida’s full Friday and Saturday practices. The team now has two practices left in Gainesville before traveling to Penn State on Thursday for Regionals.

As for the health of the team, Faehn said she’s happy about it.

“I think that they’re feeling as good as they’re going to feel right now,” Faehn said.

“I think they’ve been managing it very well and we’ve been really trying to still give them the opportunity to rest if they need to and I think that was important for our very fragile athletes.”

In the past week, four Gators picked up All-American honors for their regular-season performances. Bridget Sloan was the only gymnast in the nation to earn All-America first-team honors on each of the five events.

Junior Kytra Hunter and senior Alaina Johnson also earned spots on the All-American all-around first team.

Hunter is also on first team for vault and floor.

Senior Mackenzie Caquatto earned a spot on the first-team uneven bars and balance beam for the second year in a row.

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“It just shows that they are consistently competing at a very high level and doing great gymnastics week in and week out,” Faehn said, “which I think speaks volumes for just how disciplined they are.”

When Florida hits the floor in University Park, Penn., on Saturday at the Northeast Regional Championship, it will be exactly two weeks since the Gators last performed.

But Faehn maintains her team is focused on the future and the final two titles on the line versus the SEC title the Gators failed to claim for the first time in two years.

“It’s going to be just the start of the most incredible set of events going on through the rest of the season that our whole team has been looking forward to this whole year,” she said.

“We had a great competition there, but it was not our absolute best. But I told our team that it was most important how we respond to that.”

Follow Erica A. Hernandez on Twitter @EricaAlyssa

Bridget Sloan performs a beam routine during Florida’s 197.525-196.025 win against Arkansas on Feb. 14 in the O’Connell Center.

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