The No. 2 Florida Gators Gymnastics team extended their undefeated season to seven wins (4-0 SEC) with a 197.875 – 197.40 win at No. 18 Arkansas Friday night. Leanne Wong anchored the Florida victory with a pair of 10.0s to put the chomp on the Gymbacks in front of a record crowd of 11,031 at the Bud Walton Arena.
First Rotation Ace
The Gators hit the ground running on the uneven bars as Arkansas took to the vault.
Florida continued its where it left off against Georgia as Leanne Wong hit the bars following a 9.975 from Trinity Thomas. The World Gymnastics champion earned the Gators the first of two 10.0s on the night.
Kayla DiCello’s added to the dominance with a 9.925 effort. Victoria Nguyen’s 9.900 and Sloane Blakely’s 9.825 bolstered a Gators’ first rotation .350 lead as they pulled ahead 49.625 – 49.275.
A Senior Step Up
The Gators entered the contest, as the nation’s sixth-ranked vault team, Florida’s worst, averaging 49.294 in the event.
Sloane Blakely showed a huge improvement in the event leading off for the Gators after stumbling her last time out. Blakely’s 9.800 meant a rocky start for the orange and blue, but it was an improvement nonetheless from the sophomore as the team rallied to her seconds after sticking the first Gators vault landing of the night.
Payton Richards led off Florida’s vault lineup with what would be the evening’s winning mark of 9.925. She spoke of her season best on the vault, noting the support system that made it possible.
Richards’ efforts were backed by the No. 2 vaulter in the nation in Trinity Thomas. Thomas’ 9.900 increased the Gave the Gators the rotation by a tenth.
At the halfway point of the meet, Florida led 99.025 – 98.575.
Razorback Rally Falls Short
The third rotation meant make or break as the Razorbacks.
Arkansas looked for answers against a star-studded Florida team looking to shut the door on the meet on the beam.
Arkansas’ Cally Swaney posted a 9.925 backed by Kiara Gianfagna’s 9.900 to get the sellout crowd back in the game for the Gymbacks.
The Razorbacks seemed due for a much-needed comeback on the beam as graduate-transfer Norah Flatley stepped up. Flatley’s slip off the beam was met with supportive claps as she reluctantly landed on the mat.
Leanne Wong would capitalize on the slip and continue her stellar night with a 9.900 on the floor.
The Razorbacks gained a tenth on the Gators as Florida led 148.275 – 147.925.
The final rotation of the night would mean the second meet of the year in which Wong turned in 10.0s for both bars and beam. Wong and Auburn’s Sunisa Lee are the only two with multiple beam 10.0s in 2023.
Wong spoke on the Gators’ night on the beam, highlighting the trust that propelled the team through the uncertainty of the score.
Kayla DiCello also turned in her second collegiate best of the night, a 9.95, to take second place on the beam. Arkansas Freshman Lauren Williams’ 9.950 would give the home crowd one final cheer to punctuate a historic night for the Razorbacks.
The Gators 49.600 beam total set the team season-high on the event as the Gators capped off a 197.875 – 197. 400 road win.
Florida coach Jenny Rowland commented on the performance, noting that she’s confident in the team’s improvement.
Richards took the vault title home for the Gators with a 9.925 lead-off for Florida. Lauren Williams would be the lone Razorback at the podium. The freshman dominated the floor with a 9.950 showcase on the night.
It was Leanne Wong’s night as she aced the bars and beam, good for the meet’s all-around title.
The 17th Annual Gators Link to Pink sees Florida Gymnastics host Missouri next Friday at the Exactech Arena.