The University of Florida gymnastics squad added to its now six-meet winning streak over Georgia with a season-best 197.900-196.850 victory Friday night. The Gators sported throwback leotards as they hosted Alumni Night in the Exactech Arena.
Another 10.0 for Thomas
The Gators started the meet on the vault while the Bulldogs began on the uneven bars.
Florida’s Trinity Thomas added yet another perfect 10.0 to her collection. The graduate student stuck the landing with not a single wobble. The crowd erupted to celebrate Thomas’ twenty-third career 10.0.
Thomas now has at least four 10.0s on each apparatus. She is the only gymnast in NCAA history with four Gym Slams.
Florida coach Jenny Rowland commented on Thomas’ consistency, noting that she has complete confidence in her.
Four out of the other five Gators in the rotation backed Thomas up, posting only 9.825s and above (Bri Edwards, Payton Richards, Kayla DiCello, Leanne Wong).
The Bulldogs started the meet strong as well. Freshman Naya Howard posted a 9.900, followed by two more from junior Katie Finnegan and senior Haley de Jong.
Ok, Katie! How about that career-high 9.900?!?#GloryGlory | #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/H6yjAVV6VA
— Georgia Gymnastics (@UGAGymnastics) January 27, 2023
Despite a misstep from Florida’s Sloane Blakely (9.450) at the end of the rotation, the Gators held a 49.425-49.350 lead over the Bulldogs heading into the second rotation.
A Mighty Comeback
The second rotation of the meet began with Florida on the bars and Georgia on the vault.
Blakely came back strong in the second rotation, putting up a 9.925 for the Gators as her teammates rallied around her as she regained her confidence.
Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Kayla DiCello added a 9.900 to the Gators’ score, while Leanne Wong and Trinity Thomas were near perfection, each posting a 9.975. The crowd roared with enthusiasm.
Over on the vault, the Bulldogs put on a solid performance. Five out of their six gymnasts posted 9.825s and above (Finnegan, de Jong, Amanda Cashman, Howard, Soraya Hawthorne). Howard led her team with a 9.875.
At the end of the second rotation, the Gators led the Bulldogs by .450 (99.000-98.550).
Two rotations in, Florida mounted the balance beam while the Bulldogs took the floor.
Georgia’s Amanda Cashman had a strong floor performance, putting up a 9.900. A small mistake from Haley de Jong (9.625) helped the Gators keep their lead.
On the beam, Blakely started strong for the Orange and Blue, putting up a 9.900. The Gators posted only 9.850s and above through the rest of the rotation.
Sophomore Leanne Wong closed out for Florida with a 9.925, adding to their lead.
One Rotation to Go
With one rotation to go, Florida took the floor and Georgia mounted the beam.
The Gators finished strong on the floor, with Thomas and Victoria Nguyen each posting 9.925s. This was Nguyen’s personal best on the floor exercise.
A former Bulldog, Nguyen talked about how she handled competing against her old coaches and teammates.
Although Blakely (9.550) made an uncharacteristic mistake stepping out of bounds, the three other gymnasts in Florida’s lineup put up solid scores to help the team cause (Lori Brubach, Rachell Baumann, Wong).
Vanessa Deniz and Haley de Jong led the Bulldogs on the beam, each putting up 9.900s. A fall from JaFree Scott (9.100) helped the Gators secure the win over Georgia.
What a routine from Vanessa!
She grabs a 9.900 on beam!#GloryGlory | #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/h5p3UHX3nf
— Georgia Gymnastics (@UGAGymnastics) January 28, 2023
The Gators finished with a 197.900-196.850 win over the Bulldogs. With this win over Georgia, Florida now occupies the longest regular-season unbeaten streak in SEC history (24-0-1).
Coach Rowland noted there is definitely room to improve, but she is proud of her squad’s performance.
There was one 10.0 on the night (Thomas) and Florida occupied all four apparatus titles. Thomas claimed the vault while she and Wong tied for the bars (9.975). Wong also took the beam while Nguyen and Thomas tied for the floor (9.925).
Wong won the overall title, posting a 39.650.
The Gators will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, next week to take on the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face the Tigers.