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Saturday, April 13, 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.

The Gators are gearing up for the meet they’ve been waiting for all season: the 2014 NCAA Championship. With less than two weeks until Florida has to defend the title it claimed for the first time in 2013, coach Rhonda Faehn is looking for some key improvements.

“We had a solid competition, definitely not our best, and our athletes know that,” Faehn said of Florida’s performance at the 2014 University Park Regionals.

“We had a great start and a great finish and we had some areas in between that we really are going to address this week and work on.”

During regionals on Saturday, Florida suffered a few uncharacteristic falls and posted its second-lowest total score of the season (197.05). Faehn said her gymnasts’ excitement for NCAA’s may have put them out of the right mindset for the challenge they were facing.

“Maybe they were looking past, a little bit, the competition and not as 100 percent focused and dialed in on being there in that exact moment,” Faehn said. “That’s something we’re going to keep working on this week and putting them in pressure situations. Really staying focused on the here and now and not getting ahead of ourselves.”

The Gators still managed wins in all events and ended the meet with a first-place finish.

Because Florida finished in the top two at regionals, the team, along with Penn State, automatically advanced to the 12-team championship field.

“We’re thrilled to be able to be going to the national championship,” Faehn said.

“It’s a huge honor every single year to know that everything you worked for all season long it’s this close now.”

With a weekend off before the Gators travel to the NCAA Championship on April 16, Faehn said she’s planning a potential mock intersquad competition for the weekend.

“We want to be able to keep them in the competition mindset,” she said.

Since the start of postseason on March 22, Florida has had two weeks off in between each meet — a much longer respite than the gymnasts get during regular-season norm of one competition a week.

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“It gives our athletes a little bit of time to recover,” Faehn said.

“I think the turnaround wouldn’t be long enough if we were instantly heading into the competition this week. I think that would be just pushing it too much for the athletes…but at the same time we’re so ready and we just want it to be here.”

As for in-practice specifics, Faehn wants to see hard landings from her gymnasts — an expectation that was relaxed at the midpoint of the season in an effort to prevent in-practice injuries.

“Some of the athletes getting a little bit more of those hard landings because not there’s really no more time left to try and save them physically…” Faehn said.

“Now’s the time really to make sure that they’re 100 percent ready for all those landings.”

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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