After a long offseason of training and COVID-19 protocols, Florida Gator gymnastics was finally able to compete. Travelling to Auburn University, the Gators faced off against the 14th ranked Tigers. In this early-season top 15 match up, the Gators emerged victorious with a 197.500-195.725 win over Auburn. This win featured the highest score from any Gator gymnastics team in their opening meet ever.
Starting the first rotation with the uneven bars, juniors Leah Clapper and Trinity Thomas led the way for Florida, both posting 9.875’s in their first events. Junior Savannah Schoenherr and senior Megan Skaggs scored 9.825 and 9.750, respectively, but these scores were not enough to top the hosting Tigers. Auburn scored 49.100 on vault, and the Gators found themselves in the rare position of trailing after the first rotation.
While Auburn took the lead early with their vault score, Florida exploded with an incredible vault score of their own. Skaggs tied her career high score on vault with a 9.900, and Schoenherr added on with a 9.875. However, it was Thomas who stole the show in the second rotation, putting up a 9.975 which won the event. After Auburn scored a 49 on the uneven bars, Florida took the lead back, 98.600-98.100. They would not lose the lead again.
In the third rotation, the Gators began their floor routines. Sophomore Payton Richards tied her career best on the floor routine with a 9.85, also using the Gainesville favorite “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty in her backing music. Junior Sydney Johnson-Scharpf posted a 9.875, and junior Nya Reed earned a 9.925. Once again, Thomas raised the bar with her performance, winning the event on the night with a 9.950 score. Florida led the meet 147.900-147.075 after three rotations.
Richards kicked the fourth rotation off for the Gators on the beam, and earned a 9.875 score. However, Lazzari was the stand-out performer in her very first meet as a Florida Gator on the beam. Her score of 9.950 was the highest ever of any Gator making their beam debut. Florida ended with a cumulative score of 49.6, and that was enough to ensure a victory, with the Tigers only posting 48.975 on beam, and 48.65 on the floor routines.
When Florida traveled to Auburn Arena to take on the Tigers in 2020, Thomas posted a 10. While she did not quite reach that number this go round, she still clearly won the night and led her Gators to a solid first win of the 2021 season.
Next Friday, January 15, the Gators will come back to Gainesville for their first home meet of the season. They will take on the rival Georgia Bulldogs, as they look to continue their success against the preseason number 10 team in the country.