The Gator gymnastics team in its loss to Oklahoma on March 3. Photo courtesy of Jashari Blige

Gators Gymnastics Wins Back-to-Back SEC Championships

A meet-record 198.425 meant back-to-back SEC Championships for the Florida gymnastics team Saturday night before a sellout Gas South Arena crowd of 9,544.

Super senior Trinity Thomas led the Gators with her second season slam of her career as the Gators took a .500 victory over second-place Alabama and third-place LSU.

First Rotation, First Title

Florida coach Jenny Rowland had emphasized the vault as an obvious point of improvement all season. Saturday night marked the culmination of that improvement as the Gators began the championship meet on their worst event.

Thomas may be the veteran pride of the Gators, but it was two sophomores that led Florida to its first title of the night. Sloan Blakely’s 9.95 landed flush to the roar of the Florida faithful. It was good for a four-way tie for the SEC vault title backed by a 9.90 from Leanne Wong.

Headed into the second rotation, Florida led all but Kentucky as a 0.025 margin separated the two.

Up Steps Thomas

The Gator great could not leave the Orange and Blue without the performance of a lifetime as she claimed the uneven bars for Florida with a perfect 10.0. Thomas’ effort was her fifth of her career on the event on her way to her second career season slam, a perfect 10.0 on each event in a single season. The Gators’ 49.70 bars total equaled the meet record set by Georgia in 2014 following 9.95 marks from Wong and Victoria Nguyen.

In true championship fashion, Florida held a slight 0.15 lead at the halfway point.

Wong Goes Back-to-Back

Just shy of perfection, Wong claimed the balance beam with a 9.975 for the second year in a row. Standout freshman Kayla DiCello 9.95 tied for second place with Alabama’s Luisa Blanco and Kentucky’s Isabella Magnelli. Florida’s balance beam score of 49.675 was just shy of the 49.70 meet record established by the Gators in 2022.

According to Wong, the Gators looked to establish what they dubbed “normentum” as the word of the week. For Wong, this night was the culmination of the work she had put into a routine performance.

Cherry and the Gators on Top

The Gators finished the night on the floor as Trinity Thomas performed one last time in Orange and Blue. No other way to bow out for Thomas as she joined Kentucky’s Jenny Hansen (1994) as the only gymnast with two 10.0s in a single SEC Championship.

The perfect score gave Thomas her second consecutive SEC floor exercise title as DiCello matched her collegiate-best of 9.95 to lay her claim on a shared second place on the night.

A Night of SEC Laurels

Florida’s score of 49.325 on the floor helped them clinch first place in the meet as Thomas took her second consecutive all-around win. Thomas became the seventh in meet history – and the fourth Gator – to win consecutive SEC all-around titles. According to Thomas, fans can expect more of the same from the Gators in the postseason.

Wong shared fourth with a final score of 39.625 backed by her balance beam title as DiCello claimed the top freshman all-arounder at the meet, taking sixth at 39.60.

Final Standings

Team Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
Florida 49.375 49.700 49.675 49.675 198.425
Alabama 49.525 49.475 49.375 49.550 197.925
LSU 49.500 49.325 49.350 49.625 197.800
Kentucky 49.325 49.600 49.350 49.400 197.675
Auburn 49.300 49.350 49.225 49.225 197.100
Missouri 48.900 49.400 49.375 49.325 197.000
Arkansas 49.425 49.175 49.050 49.175 196.825
Georgia 49.100 49.250 49.225 49.025 196.600

Up Next

NCAA Regional fields are announced Monday, March 20 at noon ET according to the NCAA.

About Rafael De Los Santos

Junior studying Journalism - Sports & Media at the University of Florida

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