Florida's Trinity Thomas during an NCAA gymnastics match, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Florida Gymnastics Come From Behind to Take Down Tide

For the first time since 2014, the Florida Gators came back from a deficit after three rotations to pull off a win against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Sunday’s meet saw the Florida Gymnastics team come back from 0.350 points down after three rotations and win by a score of 197.000-196.925.

History in the O’Dome

Before any gymnast had done a dismount or even stepped foot on the floor, history had been made. For the first time ever, ABC carried the coverage of a collegiate gymnastics dual meet. No regular-season dual meet had ever been broadcast on any of the three major networks.

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The two SEC squads opened up conference competition in front of a sold-out Stephen C O’Connell Center.

Florida was fresh off a quad meet win over Northern Illinois, Texas Women’s University and Rutgers and ranked No. 2 in the nation by Road to Nationals Standings.

Alabama came in at No. 11 after a season-opening loss to No. 3 Oklahoma. Florida Gymnastics now move to 4-0 on the season.

Ten for Trinity

In rotation one, the Gators started on vault while Alabama took to bars.

Senior Savannah Shoenherr and freshman Leanne Wong made their season debuts on the apparatus for Florida.

Trinity Thomas came up big for the Gators in the anchor spot. The senior finished the first rotation with a perfect 10 for Florida, giving the Gators a 49.350 score after one rotation.

Thomas became the 12th gymnast in the NCAA history, and third Gator history, to score a 10 on each apparatus in their career.

“I was like ‘I am not leaving until I finish the gym-slam,'” Thomas said, “So it was so special that moment. When my feet hit the ground this time, I thought ‘No way.'”

Alabama remained consistent on bars with each score getting slightly better with each routine.

After back-to-back 9.925 scores from juniors Luisa Blanco and Makarri Doggette, the Crimson Tide also ended rotation one with a score of 49.350.

Battle on Bars

The Gators followed up a strong start on vault with bars.

Wong and Thomas both had to work hard to save their routine from a major deduction. Both gymnasts overrotated on their handstands and arched their backs to keep the routine alive. The two Florida stars, along with freshman Riley McCusker, scored 9.750 on the event.

Megan Skaggs led the way for the Gators with a 9.875 on the event.

Florida finished with 48.975 on bars, bringing their meet total to 98.325 after two rotations.

Alabama began to push ahead after a strong showing on vault.

Doggette led the way with a 9.875 which pushed Alabama ahead by 0.150 points going into rotation three

Alabama’s Anchors Add to Lead

Alabama continued to expand its lead on the floor exercise.

With closing performances of a 9.90 from Blanco and a 9.925 from graduate student Lexi Graber, the Tide took advantage of mistakes from Florida on beam.

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As reigning SEC Beam Champion Ellie Lazzari made her 2022 debut, a tough combination of moves forced her off the 4-inch beam and earned her a 9.15.

Freshman Sloane Blakely and Leanne Wong added strong scores with a 9.925 and 9.90 respectively, but the Gators trailed the Tide entering the final event by 0.350 points.

Alabama led 147.775-147.425.

Fantastic on Floor

With the crowd of 8,781 buzzing with floor exercise on the horizon for the Gators, Florida proceeded to begin a massive comeback.

Alabama didn’t falter on beam with any major mistakes, so it was up to Florida to put together some massive scoring floor routines.

Senior Nya Reed took the floor for the Gators, and with three solid passes got a perfect 10 for the Gators.

With the crowd celebrating and Reed getting emotional, Florida still needed a 9.950 to win.

That’s when Trinity Thomas took the floor.

With the Gators needing near perfection in back-to-back routines, Thomas displayed her high flying ability and had the O’Dome celebrating.

Thomas got a perfect 10 to cap off the night and win the meet for the Gators on the very final performance of the night. Thomas’ second 10 of the meet and the third for the Gators.

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“I didn’t know I had to get a 10 but I knew I was going to have to hit a dang good routine,” Thomas said, “I saw Nya’s 10 go up and thought ‘This is it.'”

Gators take the meet 197.000-196.925.

Gators head coach Jenny Rowland said this meet was the loudest she has ever heard Gator fans at a home meet.

“This is my seventh season, and I have not heard the O’Dome that loud for a gymnastics meet ever,” Rowland said, “It was electrifying.”

Individual Awards

Floor: Trinity Thomas and Nya Reed (10.0)

Vault: Trinity Thomas (10.0)

Bars: Blanco and Doggette (9.925)

Beam: Blanco (9.950)

All-Around: Megan Skaggs (39.525)

Up Next

For Florida Gymnastics, they’ll take on Georgia on Friday at 6 p.m. For Alabama, they host Kentucky.

About Christopher Will

Chris Will is a second-year journalism student with a focus in sports and media. Originally from the Fort Lauderdale area, Will is now the beat reporter for Florida Gymnastics and covers all things sports in Gainesville.

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