The Florida Gators gymnastics team is looking to continue their successful 2019 campaign on Friday. UF, the top seed in the Corvallis region, is in Oregon to begin NCAA tournament play today.
Led by head coach Jenny Rowland and standout freshman Trinity Thomas, Florida has accumulated 13 wins versus just three losses this year. The group won seven non-conference games and lost just one to Oklahoma, the number one overall seed in the tournament.
Different format, same goal
In the past, regional action involved 36 teams going to six different locations to narrow down the field. This directly led to two teams being in the locker room while others were competing. The time period between competing on the bars or the floor is known as a bye.
Under the new format that begun this year, however, byes are no longer a part of the tournament. This time around, there are four different locations that each have nine teams battling it out.
Four teams from each region will advance to Saturday after competing on Friday. The two top teams in each region from Saturday’s competition will head to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. Events in the Lone Star State begin on April 19.
For Rowland, the switch to this new format is going to benefit all parties involved, namely the student-athletes:
There are double sessions on Friday during the day and at night, but Florida will be competing at 10 p.m. ET. The other seven teams participating are Boise State, Denver, Iowa, Oregon State, Southern Utah, Stanford and Washington.
Distance won’t be a distraction
Out of all of the programs previously listed, Florida had to make the farthest trip as they traveled nearly 3,000 miles. Although the Gators would have preferred to be in Athens, Georgia, because of the close proximity, Rowland isn’t concerned about her team.
Trinity Thomas, who was named SEC Freshman of the Year last week, has been one of the best gymnasts in the nation. Thomas was named to both the All-SEC and All-Freshman teams and was the SEC vault champion (9.95) as well.
Outside of Thomas, three Gators appeared on the All-SEC team, including Alyssa Baumann. The sophomore was the SEC balance beam co-champion, sharing the title with teammate Rachael Gowey. Baumann became the first competitor in 21 seasons to win an SEC balance beam title in back-to-back seasons.
With multiple contributors on the team, Rowland is confident heading into Friday’s competition: