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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Gators bit by injury bug

Florida suffered two more injuries at NCAA Regionals

<p>Junior Trinity Thomas performs a floor routine Jan. 29 against Missouri</p>

Junior Trinity Thomas performs a floor routine Jan. 29 against Missouri

Florida can’t catch a break a week-and-a-half away from NCAA Championships. 

Juniors Sydney Johnson-Scharpf and Halley Taylor sustained injuries during floor warmups in the Regional Final. Johnson-Scharpf announced on Instagram Monday that she ruptured her Achilles and underwent surgery to repair it Wednesday. 

Star junior Trinity Thomas picked up a nagging injury against No. 7 Alabama, which further compounds Florida’s injury woes. She endured an ankle detriment in an uneven bars warmup against the Crimson Tide. 

Thomas and Taylor’s injury status remains nebulous for the NCAA Semifinal April 16. Coach Jenny Rowland said the duo is doing what they can a day at a time.

However, Johnson-Scharpf will be a massive loss for Florida and coach Jenny Rowland. She consistently manned the Gators beam and floor lineups when healthy. 

For her, it wasn’t the only time this season she dealt with a setback. She fell on her beam exercise and sat out three-straight meets following a hip flexor injury versus No. 14 Missouri. Then, Johnson-Scharpf and a host of Gators sat out due to COVID-19 contact tracing when they played No. 11 Kentucky.

She only competed on floor following her injury against the Tigers. 

Senior Megan Skaggs said it was difficult to see her collapse with an injury, but she had great respect for her response. 

“Sydney (Johnson-Scharpf) is an incredible person and a great teammate for all of us,” she said. “But she is so strong and, immediately, her perspective after the injury was so great.”

Her outlook afterward was quite positive despite the brutal road to recovery. Rowland said she didn’t have to reach out to her to deliver words of encouragement. 

Johnson-Scharpf told her that she’s ready to take on rehab, so she can perform her senior year.

But Skaggs said Florida is prepared to replace a key contributor. 

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“We always talk about how you can’t replace the person, but you can replace the score,” she said. “Everybody knows now that they have to step up.”

The Gators have depth to substitute Johnson-Scharpf on floor with the likes of junior Leah Clapper, freshman Ellie Lazzari and sophomore Payton Richards. 

Lazzari and Clapper recorded career-highs in the Regional Final on floor with a 9.925 and 9.9, respectively.

“Everybody plays a super important role on this team,” Rowland said. “And we aren’t the same without one missing piece.”

Johnson-Scharpf will continue her involvement within the program, Rowland said, whether cheering for the team on Zoom or watching practice from the sidelines. 

Contact Zachary Huber at zhuber@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @zacharyahuber

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