Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland and Trinity Thomas during an NCAA gymnastics match against Missouri, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Gymnastics Meet Preview: No. 1 Gators Returns Home to Face No. 7 Georgia

The No. 1 Gators Gymnastics team dominated in their first meet of the season at Auburn, finishing with a 197.500-195.725 win. Highlighted by a 9.950 on the beam from freshman Ellie Lazzari and another SEC Gymnast of the Week Award for junior Trinity Thomas, the Gators also earned the highest point total of any team in the country after the first week of competition. Now, Florida returns home to the O’Connell Center for the first time since 2020 to take on a familiar foe; the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs.

“We had a little bit of a slow start on bars, but I think we found a rhythm after that. We settled in, and we just did what we do in gym, so I was just really proud of everyone.”- Freshman Ellie Lazzari on the Auburn meet

Gymnastics Sibling Rivalry

The Bulldogs won their first meet of the season, defeating Missouri 196.150-194.250. Georgia was led to victory by efforts from freshman Victoria Nguyen, who posted a 9.950 on bars in her college debut, as well as junior Mikayla Magee, who earned a 9.925 on the vault. The meet this week will be the 154th matchup between the two SEC opponents.

Any meet in the SEC is huge, and then just double or triple that with Georgia here,” Head Coach Jenny Rowland said. “Just the rivalry that these two teams have and the sibling rivalry that these two teams have on top of that really just makes for a great competition.”

While Rowland notes the sibling-esque rivalry between the Gators and the ‘Dawgs, there is also a more direct sibling rivalry involved in the meet on the 15th. Florida senior Alyssa Baumann’s team will be going head-to-head with her sister, Georgia junior Rachel Baumann. Rachel led the Bulldogs last week on the floor routine, earning a 9.875.

Growing up, we were both in gymnastics,” Alyssa said. “She looked up to me in the gym and I tried to be an example for her. Now that we’re at different schools, we still talk on the phone all the time and we still try to stay really close. It was good to get to see her over Christmas a little bit, and we’re excited to see each other again.”

Return to the O’Dome

“This weekend, I know, Gator Nation will be out in full strength and full force and this team thrives on that. Any additional positive energy that the Gators can gain will only benefit them.”- Head Coach Jenny Rowland

When Gators Gymnastics enters the O’Connell Center on Friday night, it will have been 327 since their last home meet in the arena. While attendance will still be lower than usual, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, the team is still happy to be back in their home building.

We’re really excited to get back out there at home,” Baumann said. “I know it’s been a long time since last season ended all of the sudden, so I think we’re excited just to get back into what we know and what we’re familiar with and go against a good team.”

For the freshmen in the group, this will be their first meet in Gainesville. One such freshman is Lazzari, who is eager to perform in front of the gator nation after a record-breaking performance against Auburn.

It’s going to be amazing, I’m so excited,” Lazzari said. “It’s going to be so much fun, and I’m just excited to finally experience my time as a gator and in the ‘O Dome’ and in front of the gator head.”

Quotes Courtesy of University Athletic Association

About Carson Cashion

Carson Cashion is a second-year student at the University of Florida, and has a major in journalism with a specialization in sports and media. Originally from the Orlando area, Cashion has covered the UF Gymnastics team as well as Oak Hall athletics for ESPN Gainesville.

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