The number two Florida Gators Gymnastics team extended its undefeated season to eight wins (5-0 SEC), beating number 15 Missouri 198.350 – 196.625 Friday night. Trinity Thomas and Kayla DiCello headlined the dominating Gators’ victory with perfect 10.0s in front of a record crowd of 9,691 at Florida’s annual Link to Pink meet.
The Florida Average
Florida began the evening on the vault as the Tigers headed to the bars.
The Gators’ worst event of the season continued to lack the luster associated with its number two ranking. The Gators mustered a 49.350 on the rotation.
Though the performance was a little over a 30th better than Florida’s 49.315 average, coach Jenny Rowland will want to ramp up her team’s performances as the Gators prepare for a trip to LSU up next and SECs on the horizon. But as for Friday night, nothing but pride from the Gator coach.
Florida took the event nonetheless in a 49.350 – 49.250 win symptomatic of dominating rotations to come.
The nation’s best uneven bars squad headed to their comfort zone for the second rotation of the night lead in hand.
Certain perks come with being a gymnast at Florida’s number-two-ranked program. Among them, is a lineup that reads DiCello, Thomas, Leanne Wong, Victoria Nguyen and Payton Richards.
Beyond DiCello’s 10.0 on the bars, the Gators showed why they could, as coach Rowland mentioned after the meet, “let it shine.” Thomas and Wong shared 9.950s to bolster DiCello’s effort, with a 9.925 from Nguyen to boot.
Florida’s 49.675 on the bars was good enough to drop Richards’ 9.850, a score good enough to be Missouri’s second-best on the event. It was the night of the freshmen for Florida. DiCello’s first 10.0 on the uneven bars of her career made her the first freshman to ace the event this season.
The three-time SEC Freshman of the Week and one-time specialist of the week anchored Florida’s effort on the bars. She performed a routine whose repetition deserved a long overdue 10.0.
Thomas Owns the Beam
The nation’s fourth-best balance beam artist took the second Link to Pink 10.0 of the night. Thomas, one of only five gymnasts to receive a 10.0 in the event this season, achieved her second ace of the campaign on the way to a dominant Florida third rotation for the Gators.
DiCello also continued her stellar night on the beam with a 9.950. Her performance was her best of the season in the event, surpassing her 9.925 efforts at Ball State, Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas.
The Gators owned the rotation 49.550 – 49.200 as they increased their lead to 1.200 headed to the floor.
The Floor Deserved a Ten
The record crowd’s pink “10.0” signs backed by passionate screams should have been enough to force an ace out of the judges. Florida scorched the floor. Wong punctuated her routine with the first of many rounds of boos when the first judge awarded her a 9.950. The second judge deemed the effort a 10.0.
Routines from Sloane Blakely and Thomas received the same treatment, both from the judges and the crowd.
Missouri took the vault title home with Jocelyn Moore’s 9.925 effort leading the Tigers. The rest of the podium was adorned in Orange and Blue as Thomas and DiCello took 10.0s for the Gators. With a 39.825 on the night, Thomas took her 28th all-around title surpassing Gator-great Bridget Sloan’s 27.
Florida will travel to Baton Rouge to face LSU in what will be a big road test for Rowland’s number two-ranked Gators.