After completing just their first meet of the year, the No. 3 Gators are already facing a season’s worth of adversity.
Junior Bridget Sloan and senior Jamie Shisler each suffered injuries on Sunday against Ball State, and coach Rhonda Faehn addressed both Monday.
Sloan injured her foot during floor routine against Ball State, and Faehn said x-rays revealed there were no fractures. Sloan was still scheduled to undergo an MRI later in the day to see if she has any ligament or muscle damage.
Shisler did not receive such good news. The senior’s season is over after tearing her Achilles tendon while participating in a warmup for the floor routine.
"She was going to exhibition the event," Faehn said, "and that was tough for the team to be able to see because she’s such a great personality, and it’s always hard for anyone to be injured, but let alone a senior."
Faehn said the team was emotional and struggled to maintain focus during the last rotation Sunday because of the injuries, but she expects the entire group to rally and be ready to carry on — no matter the circumstances.
"It’s very hard, it’s challenging and it’s tough, but I think these athletes are extremely tough and they’ve experienced this their whole life," she said.
"Gymnastics is a huge high-impact sport where injuries are just part of the sport. ... They’re strong and they’re resilient, and I know that they’re gonna group and get closer."
In order to replace both veterans, the Gators will be looking for their other gymnasts to make up the difference, and Faehn said she’s looking to the freshmen to answer the call — in fact, one already has.
"I specifically asked all the girls in the circle when we were done who was going to be stepping up and who was going to be taking it upon themselves to really now show their strength, and Alex McMurtry was raising her hand high," Faehn said. "We have great potential of the athletes, they just need to step it up."
Faehn said McMurtry has a chance to compete on the balance beam Friday against No. 21 Auburn, while fellow freshman Ericha Fassbender and senior Rachel Spicer are in the mix to fill-in for the vault. Spicer competed in the vault all last season.
The uneven parallel bars are an area of concern for Faehn, but she said she hopes to have all her lineups determined by Wednesday or Thursday.
The short week only adds to the difficulty of evaluating replacements before Friday’s meet — the athletes who competed Sunday will only have two training days leading up to the home opener.
The athletes who did not compete against Ball State were able to get an additional practice session in on Monday.
Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24
Bridget Sloan performs a floor routine during Florida's win against LSU last season.