When the No. 3 Florida Gators take to the O’Connell Center to face off against the Missouri Tigers tonight, they’ll be missing one of their standout gymnasts.
Since UF gymnastics took home the NCAA title three years in a row from 2013-2015, it has mad…
Alyssa Baumann, the returning sophomore and two-time All-American, fell off the uneven bars during the team’s practice session Thursday. Baumann was transported to Shands Hospital for a precautionary evaluation, but according to team officials, the 2018 All-SEC and All-Freshman gymnast is “sore, but otherwise in good spirits.” Despite the injury’s seemingly pedestrian nature, team officials said that there is currently no timetable for her return.
🚨Update:After an UB fall today, @Alyssa_Baumann_ was transported to Shands Hospital for a precautionary evaluation. Alyssa is sore but otherwise in good spirits. She is expected to make a full recovery, but will not compete Friday. Return timetable is not yet determined.— Gators Gymnastics (@GatorsGym) January 11, 2019
Baumann, whose freshman year was a driving force in the team’s season that eventually culminated in an NCAA Super Six appearance, will certainly be missed during the team’s grudge meet against Missouri, one of two teams that defeated them in SEC play last year.
Baumann’s injury piles on top of the loss of fellow sophomore Jazmyn Foberg, who had surgery on her elbow in November. The team’s freshmen and underclassmen may be in an even brighter spotlight by necessity when the O’Connell Center comes alive tonight.
Easing the Absence
With Baumann and Foberg out of the picture, both of whom contributed in two rotations during the team’s appearance in the Super Six, it will be up to the team’s remaining gymnasts to step up on short notice. Baumann is listed as an all-arounder, and she was a 2018 All-American on beam and floor.
In that regard, senior Alicia Boren can certainly help ease the absence. Boren is a star on the floor, achieving her collegiate best score of 9.95 nine times throughout her career. She also earned Second-Team All-American for her talents on the balance beam last year on top of the floor and all around designations. While Baumann and Boren would usually be a dynamic duo during meets, Boren’s skills on Baumann’s events could well make up for her absence.
Foberg’s events were the vault and bars, and while she doesn’t quite lay claim to the accolades Baumann achieved during her freshman year, she remained a staple of the lineup, appearing in all but one meet in the 2018 campaign. Junior Amelia Hundley’s presence in those same events could be beneficial for the lineup. Hundley is a four-time All-American, and she earned Second-Team All-American honors in the uneven bars.
Despite her injury, Foberg will still do her best to contribute tonight.
“(Foberg) is definitely still a huge part of this team,” said junior Rachel Gowey. “Even on the sidelines, being able to hear that one voice on an event is so much help.”
Freshmen in Greater Role
While the veteran presence on the team will do its best to step up in lieu of the two sophomores, the six new freshmen the team recruited in the offseason will need to come out firing as well.
The majority of the team are underclassmen, and while the team’s three sophomores have had a taste of the pressure with UF’s expectations, the squad’s six freshmen have not. With the injuries to Baumann and Foberg, the team’s freshmen could possibly find themselves in a bigger role than they initially anticipated.
The season opener is the first competition the incoming class will have at the O’Connell Center, which holds a capacity of a little under 10,000 people and often draws high attendance. It even sold out the arena in last year’s meet against LSU.
Boren made sure to give them advice as the pressure became more apparent leading up to tonight’s meet.
“Take it one day at a time,” Boren said. “They’ve been kinda nervous, but I’m just like, ‘It’s just another day.’”
“Obviously, the crowd is a big change,” freshman Savannah Schoenherr said. “I’ve never competed in front of that many people, so that’s going to be a huge difference to me.”
Despite the freshman jitters and growing pains, Jenny Rowland is confident that there’s nothing left for Florida to do on Friday than to go out and compete.
“This team is definitely prepared gymnastically,” Rowland said. “We’ve done all that we can in the gym to prepare them for what’s about to happen.”
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected]