In their third meet of the season, the No. 1 Florida Gators made the trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the No. 8 Razorbacks. The Gators were seeking their second top-ten win of the season, and their 21st consecutive win against Arkansas. In an up-and-down meet for Florida, they won a closely contested matchup against the Razorbacks, 197.425-197.250.
After a rough start on the bars in the first week, the Gators rebounded with an improved score on bars in week two against Georgia. This week, in the first rotation, Florida continued their upward trajectory, scoring a season-high 49.400 on the uneven bars routines. Sophomore Payton Richards opened the round with a 9.850, and senior Megan Skaggs added on a score of 9.875. Junior Trinity Thomas put her mark on the first rotation, scoring a near-perfect 9.975. This score won her the event title after no Arkansas gymnast topped her score in the second rotation.
In the second rotation, the Gators let their elite vault lineup shine. Richards opened the rotation once again, earning a 9.825, and the scores only went up from there. Freshman Ellie Lazzari, junior Nya Reed, and Skaggs all posted 9.850s, and Thomas contributed with a 9.875. Junior Savannah Schoenherr wowed the fans at Barnhill Arena with a 9.950, a career-high that won her the event for the night. After two rotations, the Gators led 98.775-98.525.
“The expectations are as high as you want them to be but really our only expectations of them is to be who they are,” Head Coach Jenny Rowland said. “That’s what tonight was all about.”
Reed became the SEC Co-Specialist of the Week for her floor routine against Georgia, and she kept her momentum going this week. Earning a 9.925, Reed led the Gators in the third rotation in the floor exercise. This score gave her a share of the event title with sophomore Bailey Lovett for the Razorbacks. However, the Razorbacks got three scores that were at least 9.900 on the beam. This had Arkansas outscoring Florida in the third rotation, and set up a finish to the top-10 matchup that would come down to the wire.
“Megan Skaggs has been working so hard in the gym and waiting her turn and this opportunity. She has been so very patient and it was really awesome to see her coming through in flying colors.”- Head Coach Jenny Rowland
In the crucial fourth rotation, the Razorbacks made their best effort to put themselves in a position to win the meet. In all of the floor routines on the night, Arkansas had four of the top five. Junior Kennedy Hambrick and Lovett both posted at least 9.900s, as Arkansas outscored Florida’s own floor routine. However, the Gators were able to hold onto a victory. Senior Alyssa Baumann scored a 9.925 on the beam, and Skaggs finished off a great night with a 9.950. With this score, Skaggs clinched the All-Around title for the meet, and Florida clinched their second top-ten win of the season.
The 3-0 Gators return home to the O’Connell Center next Friday to take on the No. 20 Missouri Tigers, before they travel to Baton Rouge for a marquee matchup against the No. 5 LSU Tigers.