Special report on the Florida Gators gymnastics team:
AUBURN, Ala. – Preseason No. 1 Gator gymnastics used its highest season opening total to claim the win Friday at No. 14 Auburn. Florida started the season with a 197.50 – 195.725 win in front of a sold-out reduced capacity Auburn Arena crowd of 1,100.
SEC gymnastics opened 2021 action Friday with each of the four host sites selling out their limited physically-distanced ticket numbers.
Florida trailed the Tigers by 0.05 after the opening rotation. The Gators’ uneven bars team total of 49.05 was dinged by steps or low dismounts. Junior Trinity Thomas and Leah Clapper led UF with marks of 9.875 to tie for second overall. Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne took the evening’s bars title at 9.90.
Florida looked at mid-season form on vault, as its total of 49.55 is the highest for the team since the 2017 season. Thomas’ near-perfect mark of 9.975 set her collegiate best. Three Gators – Ellie Lazzari, Megan Skaggs and Nya Reed – shared second by setting or equaling their collegiate best of 9.90.
The Gators were led on floor by Thomas’ 9.95 and Reed was just a fraction behind at 9.925. Thomas claimed the event title and Reed shared second with Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne. Florida tallied a 49.30 on the event.
Four balance beam marks of 9.90 or better – including winning marks of 9.95 by Thomas and Lazzari – helped Florida post a meet-high event total of 49.60. Senior Alyssa Baumann took third at 9.925 and junior Sydney Johnson-Scharpf earned a 9.90.
Thomas’ four event titles included upping the Gators’ season opening all-around total best to 39.75.
GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:
* Florida’s 197.50 is its all-time high in a season opener. The previous high of 197.35 came versus Arkansas in 2020 home opener.
* Thomas raised her career all-around titles total to 15, which is ninth overall on Florida’s Career Victories chart.
* Ellie Lazzari’s 9.95 is the highest ever for a Gator making their beam debut. The previous high of 9.925 was set by Sydney Johnson-Scharpf versus LSU.
* Seven marks tonight by UF returners equaled or set collegiate bests:
* Leah Clapper – 9.875 (bars), 9.70 (floor)
* Nya Reed – 9.90 (vault), 9.925 (floor)
* Payton Richards – 9.85 (floor)
* Megan Skaggs – 9.90 (vault)
* Thomas – 9.975 (vault)
* The Gators’ top-two season-opening all-around totals belong to Thomas. She set the previous high of 39.70 with her 2020 win versus Arkansas and raised it to 39.75 tonight at Auburn.
* Two freshmen made their first appearances in a collegiate lineup tonight – Gabrielle Gallentine (bars), Ellie Lazzari (vault, bars, beam).
* Junior Leah Clapper made her first appearance in the Gators’ uneven bars and floor exercise lineups tonight. She shared second overall on bars at 9.875 and earned a 9.70 on floor.
RECORDS: Florida (1-0, 0-0 SEC), Auburn (0-1, 0-0 SEC)
Note: Florida and Auburn meet twice in 2021 regular-season action. Tonight’s result does not count in SEC standings.
THE SERIES: Florida leads the series 80-11.
Florida – Florida is No. 1 in the preseason Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association preseason poll.