In an ideal world, Utah's fifth-ranked gymnastics team would go into Friday's showdown with No. 1 Florida strong and well-rested. Unfortunately, things are far from ideal for the Utes, who will be without freshman star Corrie Lothrop and Victoria Shanley.
Lothrop, who has Utah's highest all-around score of 39.5, will miss the meet with a sprained ankle while Shanley, a strong competitor on the vault who consistently scored, 9.875s, will miss the meet with a back injury.
Both sat out Utah's 196.55-193.15 win at Utah State. Utah coach Greg Marsden said he isn't sure when the two will be able to compete again given the nature of the injuries.
"It could become a problematic thing," he said. "The timing of these injuries is not ideal. Neither got better in a week, so at this point we are going week by week."
Beating the Gators with the two would be a difficult enough challenge; now it is an even bigger one, Marsden acknowledged.
The Gators not only have the nation's highest regional qualifying score of 197.055, but also are ranked No. 1 in every event.
"We have a lot of respect for Florida and we all agreed as coaches they were the team to beat this year coming out of the gate," he said. "For us to go in against a team like this, you'd like to have all of your guns blazing and have Kyndal [Robarts] and Corrie and Victoria, but we don't. But this has been a gutsy group this year and you never know what could happen."
Florida is coming off a 196.375-195.425 upset by Arkansas in which the Gators had three falls on the balance beam.