This matchup needed no introduction; the top two teams in the nation going to battle on the gymnastics floor. The No. 1 Gators traveled to LSU to take on the No. 2 Tigers in the biggest meet of the regular season. In an absolute barn burner of a gymnastics meet, Florida came away with a razor-thin victory, 198.150-198.
Gators Trail Early
Coming out of the gate, sophomore Payton Richards gave the Gators a solid 9.850 to start off the bar routines. Two Gators managed to earn at least 9.9s, as juniors Savannah Schoenherr and Trinity Thomas earned 9.925 and 9.975, respectively. Thomas’ score won her the event title for the night. Despite these top scores, LSU came out swinging; the Bayou Bengals scored four vault routines of 9.9 or greater, with sophomore Kiya Johnson earning the top score on vaults with a 9.950. The Tigers led Florida after the first rotation, 49.600 to 49.400.
In the second rotation, the Gators returned home to their nation-best vault routine. They did not disappoint. Senior Megan Skaggs and Richards both earned 9.875s, and Florida earned three scores of 9.9 or above to add on. Schoenherr earned a 9.900, junior Nya Reed earned a 9.925 and Thomas won the event with her score of 9.975. However, despite a Gator winning the event title, the Tigers held their ground on the bars; LSU matched Florida’s score in the second rotation, and held their .200 lead over the visiting Gators as they entered the third rotation.
Thomas Captures “10”
Trying to claw their way back into the meet, the Gators got the performances they needed; Reed earned a 9.925, and senior Alyssa Baumann scored a 9.900 in her return to the floor lineup after two weeks off. However, it was Thomas who yet again stole the show; for the first time this season, Thomas finally secured her first 10.000 of the season. Regardless of the heroics from Thomas, LSU still stayed steady, once again earning the same score as Florida in the third rotation. Entering the final rotation of the night, Florida would need an incredible performance on the beams to keep their perfect season alive.
Since LSU boasted the top-ranked floor routine entering tonight’s meet, the chances Florida could pull off the come-back were seemingly slim. However, the Gators refused to back down; Richards opened their final rotation on the beam with a great 9.925, and it only got better from there. After a rare fall from Skaggs, Lazzari put the team right back into rhythm with an incredible 9.950. Baumann posted a 9.925, and Thomas finished her legendary night with a 9.925. The entire meet came down to the final LSU gymnast on the floor, who fell on her final jump of the night; this sealed the win for the Gators in the meet of the year. Thomas won the all-around title, scoring 39.900. This score was the 5th-highest all-around score in NCAA history. When the best teams in the nation face-off, the greatest athletes rise to the occasion.
After this incredible win, the Gators return home to the O’Connell Center to face off against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats are No. 15 in the nation.