Special report on the Florida Gators gymnastics team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In Friday’s only top-10 matchup, it was No. 2 Florida gymnastics using the nation’s 2020 high for the win over No. 8 LSU in a key Southeastern Conference meet.
The Gators’ 198.375 is the nation’s leader in the first month of the 2020 season and the third-highest in school history. LSU also turned in its season-best of 197.775 Friday.
Friday’s meet brought together the two teams claiming 2019 Southeastern Conference team titles. Florida won its first SEC regular-season title after posting a 6-1 record. The Tigers claimed the SEC Championship meet title in New Orleans.
A sellout crowd roared as the Gators posted 22 season or collegiate best scores Friday. A 10.0 by Gator sophomore Trinity Thomas on uneven bars gave her the first perfect score of her collegiate career. Tiger freshman Kiya Johnson also scored her first collegiate 10.0 Friday to win the balance beam title.
Florida trailed the Tigers by 0.025 after the opening rotation, despite turning in its season-best of 49.40 on vault. Gator freshman Payton Richards anchored the lineup with a collegiate-best 9.925 to take third. The vault title was shared at 9.95 by LSU’s Ruby Harrold and the defending NCAA vault champion Kennedi Edney.
The Gators’ uneven bars total of 49.65 tied for sixth highest in school history and put the team ahead for good. After Thomas’ 10.0, fellow sophomore Savannah Shoenherr also set her collegiate-best to share second with Harrold at 9.975.
Five marks of 9.9 or better gave Florida a balance beam total of 49.675 – equaling the school record set in 2018 versus Oklahoma. Two Gators were nearly perfect on the event at 9.975 – junior Alyssa Baumann and senior Rachel Gowey – to share second overall.
Thomas was close to perfection again on floor exercise with her winning mark of 9.975. She shared the floor title with LSU’s Johnson. Sophomore Nya Reed was third after upping her collegiate-best to 9.95.
In a meet featuring the last two to claim the SEC Gymnast of the Week honors, it was Thomas edging Johnson for the all-around title. Thomas’ total of 39.775 sets her collegiate best and is the nation’s third-highest total of 2020. Johnson’s total of 39.725 is tied for the nation’s sixth-highest of the season.
GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:
* Florida’s total of 198.375 is the nation’s high for 2020 (previous high: 198.25 by Oklahoma last Friday at Alabama). It is No. 3 for the Gators all-time.
* Three events scored 49.65 or better for Florida – beam (49.675 – No. T1 in school history), bars and beam (49.65 – No. T6 all-time for UF on bars; No. T10 all-time for UF on floor). This is the first time UF scored 49.65 or better on three events in a single meet and the third time in collegiate history (Oklahoma and UCLA have the three 49.65+ meets).
* The total is the 20th time Florida reached 198 and was the 124th in collegiate history.
* Crowd of 9,332 is the third sellout for Gator gymnastics. It is the third-largest gymnastics crowd ever in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
* Trinity Thomas’ all-around total of 39.775 ties for No. 9 for Florida.
* Payton Richards’ 39.50 is the third-highest ever for a Gator making her all-around debut (leader: 39.575 by Mackenzie Caquatto/2011 and Alicia Boren/2016)
* Thomas’ 10.0 is the:
* 42nd in school history and 14th different Gator to earn a perfect score
* 14th for UF on uneven bars
* Third uneven bars 10.0 this season (two 10.0s by UCLA’s Kyla Ross)
* Collegiate best set or equaled tonight by the Gators:
* Alyssa Baumann – 9.975 (beam)
* Rachel Gowey – 9.975 (beam)
* Sydney Johnson-Scharpf – 9.925 (beam)
* Nya Reed – 9.90 (vault) and 9.95 (floor)
* Payton Richards – 9.925 (vault), 9.90 (beam), floor (9.85), all-around (39.50)
* Savannah Schoenherr – 9.975 (bars)
* Trinity Thomas – 10.0 (bars), 9.975 (floor), 39.775 (all-around)
RECORDS: Florida (3-0, 3-0 SEC), LSU (3-1, 2-1 SEC).
THE SERIES: Florida leads the series 72-41.
HEAR FROM THE GATORS:
“Wow. It was an incredible night from the get-go. Looking back, the energy in the O’Connell Center was so awesome and really helped this team carry through four events tonight. In all reality, it was a normal practice for this team. It was what we have been seeing on a daily basis and that’s what is really exciting. There was a lot of emotion and grit, but I told this team at the end how proud I am of them. The grit, the fight and the heart that was left on the competition floor tonight was amazing. To compete at this level with LSU – it was a cat fight/gator fight – it was nonstop and no one was letting down. I am very proud of this team to preserve and come through.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland
On Trinity Thomas’ 10 & the team reaction:
“Everyone was definitely hyped, but the team knew it was time to focus. That was our challenge this week in practice to stay contained within our team and continuing to move forward. We worked on one thing at a time and dwell on the past, celebrate, then take a step and continue to move forward.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland
On scoring a 10.0:
“I never really know. I knew it was really good and when I landed my teammates ran so fast – almost knocked me over – and I was like ‘okay, maybe it was really good.’ But I was really excited about it and they were so sweet. It was great.” – sophomore Trinity Thomas
On having to complete two more routines after scoring a 10:
“I was super excited, but I think my teammates were even more excited than me. I was like ‘let’s get to beam, let’s finish this meet, let’s go.’ It was easy for me to celebrate and then be like ‘okay next event.’ It was good.” – sophomore Trinity Thomas
On what this team performance means for them moving forward…
“This crowd really brought it tonight. When they said my name before I went up on an event it was like the O’Dome was shaking, it was so cool. That got me really excited, really pumped up … I think we thrive in this type of environment and I think we thrived tonight. We did an amazing job and I can’t wait for next weekend.” – sophomore Trinity Thomas
On answering LSU’s scores:
“I don’t think we really pay attention, but sometimes we look up and you can just see how close it is. We know that LSU is always going to bring a tough competition, especially after last year. We just try to come in here and try to do what we’ve been doing at practice. That’s really all we did tonight, we were normal and this is what we’re capable of. It’s exciting to see it all come together.” – junior Alyssa Baumann
On what it feels like when your teammate scores a 10:
“It almost feels like you score a 10. That’s how we win, so you want your teammates to do the best they can. You see them work hard every day in practice. I’ve seen Trinity do that routine so many times in practice, so I was just really excited for her. Probably more excited than she was. It’s fun.” – junior Alyssa Baumann
On if she was surprised the gymnastics was so elite:
“No surprises to me. Like both of them said, this is what we do in the gym. I like to say that I practice judge in the gym a lot. The execution level of this team, the amplitude of this team, the originality, the grace, the power, it is the whole package. It is something that they put together and did a really great job with tonight.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland
On fun with the lineups
“Something that I told Sydney [Johnson-Scharpf] after her beam routine – other than that I was exceptionally proud of her – was that she did a very good job of trusting the process. Sometimes you have to sit and wait, but she has warmed up throughout the season on beam and I knew that the past couple of weeks she has been getting better and more confident. I knew without a doubt that there wasn’t going to be any hesitation from her. I told her that this was her moment and her time.
“When we put an athlete in – when that decision is made – that they are going to be ready and they are going to perform at their best. Both Sydney and Payton [Richards] – who stepped into the floor lineup – did a great job. This was Payton’s first time competing in the all-around and sometimes when you add that extra component, another event may go south, but it goes to show what a great competitor Payton is.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland
Florida – Florida is No. 2 in the Road to Nationals<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__roadtonationals.com_results_standings_season_2020_3_0_5&d=DwIFJg&c=sJ6xIWYx-zLMB3EPkvcnVg&r=o5LKAX7slotfFMyE71jI7L22NYBIi1-KbRGNSXudTPo&m=NE6lICB85WgkB9vGFXJif0p2MucJ4_-6z19vlsIK2aA&s=7NOuzFyAjyvXpTCITamiECRbRXpnPMKqJp4ib2sEedQ&e= > standings.
LSU – The Tigers are No. 8 in the Road to Nationals rankings.
Florida closes out January competition Friday at No. 12 Kentucky.