For their final meet of the season in the O’Connell Center, the No. 1 Florida Gators hosted the No. 18 Auburn Tigers in a rematch of the opening meet of the season. After winning the first matchup by a score of 197.50 to 195.725, Head Coach Jenny Rowland and her team hoped to get its’ seventh win of the season on “Senior Night.” They did just that, as well as smash a few records, as the Gators topped the Tigers, 198.275-197.025.
Seniors Lead the Way Early
Kicking off the opening rotation was, fittingly, senior Jazmyn Foberg on the vault. In a season-high score for the gymnast from Bayville, New Jersey, Foberg scored a 9.850. Following her up was a fellow senior: Megan Skaggs. Skaggs saved the best of her vault performances in the O’Dome for last, as her score of 9.925 set a new career-high. After a week off due to COVID-19 protocols, juniors Savannah Schoenherr, Nya Reed and Trinity Thomas made their returns. Schoenherr scored a 9.950, tying her career-high and winning the event title, Reed earned a 9.800 that wasn’t counted and Thomas scored a 9.850. Sophomore Payton Richards rounded out the rotation, earning a 9.900; this was the third 9.9-or-better score of the rotation for Florida.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Rowland said. “I always love seeing these young women grow throughout their four years here. Not just in the gym, but outside the gym.”
While the bars are considered one of the Gators’ multiple strong suits, the team struggled out of the gate. Lazzari opened the rotation with a 9.825, and freshman Gabrielle Gallentine followed it up with a 9.775. Thankfully for the Gators, their veteran leadership carried the load to finish out the rotation. Skaggs followed her great vault run-up with a 9.925, and senior Alyssa Baumann earned a 9.900. After winning the event title on the vault, Schoenherr scored a 9.850 in her final bars routine of the season in the O’Dome. It was Thomas, though, that brought the orange-and-blue faithful to their feet. Her 10.000 to finish the rotation for the Gators was her second perfect score of the season, after earning another “10” for her floor exercise against LSU. After two rotations, the Gators led, 98.950-98.475.
“I honestly didn’t really care about the score, because I knew in my heart that that was one of my best routines,” Thomas said. “Then I turned around and everybody was screaming.”
After relying on upperclassmen to lead the lineup on the bars, the third rotation brought a share of an event title for a freshman. After Skaggs earned a 9.900, Lazzari followed her and brought the crowd, once again, to its’ feet. While the freshman from Wheaton, Illinois, fell just short of the perfect 10.000, her 9.975 set a new career-high score. After Baumann and Thomas both earned 9.925s, junior Leah Clapper ended the rotation. Having scored a perfect 10.000 on the beam last week, Clapper earned another high score with a 9.975; this score split the event title between Clapper and Lazzari. Totaling at 49.700, Florida’s beam score broke the school record; every score that counted for the team was at least a 9.900. The Gators led by a full point as they entered the final rotation.
“A casual 49.7”- Head Coach Jenny Rowland
In the third rotation, Auburn gymnast and reigning SEC Specialist Gymnast of the week Derrian Gobourne earned a 9.95 for the Tigers. The Gators chased Gobourne’s score for most of the final rotation; in her final performance in the O’Dome, Skaggs earned a 9.850. Lazzari continued her streak of success with a 9.900, and Reed carried the momentum forward with a 9.925. While Gobourne still had the event title with two gymnasts to go, the record-breaking Thomas was waiting.
Trinity Makes History
“You could say that she is becoming the greatest Gator Gymnast ever.”- Head Coach Jenny Rowland
In an all-time moment in Gator Gymnastics history, Thomas earned her second 10.000 of the night on her floor routine. This had only been done once before; Alex McCurty scored two “10s” in an away meet at Oklahoma in 2018 on the bars and the beam. This meant that Thomas was the first Gator to earn two perfect scores at home, and the first to do it on the bars and the floor routine. Baumann finished the night off with a 9.950, and the Gators emerged victorious, 198.275-197.025.
“It’s so cool to be where I am right now,” Thomas said. “I’ve been working really hard for this, so it’s really cool to see my hard work pay off.”
As the team celebrated their victory, they were greeted with a new trophy; the Gators had secured the regular-season SEC Title. As Rowland was doused in confetti, the Gators basked in their glory; these types of teams don’t come along every day.
In their final regular-season meet, the undefeated Gators hit the road for Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Awaiting them is a top-ten opponent, as the No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide will be looking for a signature win as they enter postseason meets.