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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Gators gymnastics practices through Easter to prepare for NCAA Regionals

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The atmosphere in Florida’s practice gym on Wednesday was as normal as any other day this spring.

It matched the mood the gymnasts had aimed to keep over the past week while off from competition in between the SEC Championships and NCAA Regional Championships. Following a third-place finish at the postseason conference meet on March 24, No. 5 UF has spent the past week and a half working on fixing the small landings and leaps that kept it from claiming an SEC title. Now, the Gators have their eyes set on performing well at the NCAA regionals this Saturday in University Park, Pennsylvania.

But that hasn’t kept them from keeping things light at practice.

On Sunday morning, after several members of the team attended an Easter church service at the O’Connell Center, all 15 gymnasts reported to practice, only to be greeted by an Easter egg hunt set up by coach Jenny Rowland’s daughters. The day was filled with laughter and games, making the postseason crunch time a little more relaxed for the Gators.

“We wanted to beat each other because we’re always competitive,” junior Alicia Boren said. “But it was just a lot of fun.”

But Rowland didn’t let the fun stop there. At the end of practice on Sunday, the whole team went out to Ballyhoo Grill for a family-style Easter dinner. Rowland wanted to provide them with as close to a normal Easter as possible, as none of the gymnasts actually went home for the holiday.

“It probably wasn't your meal that you would probably have at your grandmas house,” Rowland said. “The best we could do was take them out to Ballyhoos.”

The start of a new week, however, brought the Gators back to the grind that is the postseason. The team returned to the gym refreshed both mentally and physically and jumped back into training for the NCAA regionals. UF travels to Pennsylvania tomorrow to take its last step on the road toward the NCAA Championships. Florida needs a top-two finish in the regional event to move onto the national meet on April 20 in St. Louis.

“We know the season is coming to an end really quickly, but our job is not done yet,” sophomore Rachel Gowey said.   

Follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez and contact her at agomez@alligator.org.

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