It was during its vault rotation that the Gators’ gymnastics team watched its lead in the SEC Championships dwindle to the LSU Tigers. An outside observer would likely believe that UF was going to spend a lot of time in the gym improving the event it scored the lowest on before it headed off to Oregon for the NCAA Corvallis Regional on Friday.
For Florida, one of the top gymnastic teams in the nation, an eighth-place ranking is unusual.
Coach Jenny Rowland would disagree.
“We haven’t addressed vault specifically,” Rowland said. “I would say that was one of our best performances thus far at SECs.”
It isn’t the vault that Florida has been focused on during practice this week, or anything else for that matter. Aside from fine-tuning the little details, Rowland asserted that UF was very satisfied with its gymnastics ahead of Friday’s regional.
Florida has put an increased emphasis, however, on its health in preparation for the long trip to Oregon.
“We talked about how our gymnastics is there,” junior Rachel Gowey said. “We have the skills, we have the training, so it’s really just focusing on outside of the gym.”
It’s what Gowey refers to as “fueling our bodies,” focusing on sleep patterns, eating patterns and water intake, among other things.
“Super important to have some healthy snacks with you, obviously,” freshman Trinity Thomas said. “Always have your water bottle, so you can stay hydrated and fuel your body.”
Thomas was recently crowned SEC Freshman of the Year and also became a four-time All-American after winning the honor for all-around, uneven bars, the balance beam and the floor.
Senior Alicia Boren also earned All-American honors for the all-around and the floor, bringing her total count to 10.
On top of Florida’s “health first” approach in practice for the last few days, Rowland stressed that the key to success at the NCAAs lies within the team as a whole.
“Not one person can take it to heart and say, ‘Oh, I should have, I could have’,” Rowland said in regard to UF’s defeat at the SEC Championships. “Really, it’s the whole team.”
After the Gators’ health is addressed and the small things are shaped up, Florida will continue to stick with what it has hit on throughout the season: normality.
“If we go in there and do exactly what what we’re doing in the gym, we’re going to be where we need to be by nationals,” Thomas said.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].