Gators Gymnastics Advances to NCAA Regional Finals

The Florida Gator gymnastics squad advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals Friday night after a regional quad-meet victory in Pittsburgh. The Gators (197.875) came out on top over Arizona State (197.525), Penn State (196.825) and Maryland (196.675). Florida and Arizona State will advance to the Regional Finals on Sunday.

Hot Start for the Gators

To kick off the meet, the Gators mounted the beam while Penn State took the vault, Maryland took the bars and Arizona State stepped onto the floor.

On the beam, Sloane Blakely started off for the Gators. The sophomore posted a 9.875. Junior Ellie Lazzari followed Blakely with a strong 9.900. SEC Freshman of the Year Kayla DiCello posted an outstanding 9.950. Trinity Thomas followed with a 9.900 before a 9.850 from sophomore Leanne Wong. Sophomore Riley McCusker finished the rotation for the Gators with a collegiate-best 9.950.

Over on the vault, the Nittany Lions started off a little shaky with a fall on the landing from sophomore Elina Vihrova (9.075). Three 9.800s followed to boost the Lions’ score (Maddie Johnston, Cassidy Rushlow, Isabella Salcedo). After a 9.700 from sophomore Jessica Johanson, freshman Ava Piedrahita finished with a solid 9.900.

On the bars, Maryland’s Rhea LeBlanc put up a 9.825 to put the Terrapins on the board. Sophomores Tasha Brozowski and Victoria Gatzendorfer followed Leblanc with a 9.850 and 9.800, respectively.

Sierra Kondo posted a 9.875. Seniors Emma Silberman and Aleka Tsiknias closed out the rotation for Maryland with 9.850s and above.

Finally, on the floor, freshman Kayla Lee posted a 9.800 for Arizona State. Two 9.875 followed for Arizona State, from junior Sarah Clark and sophomore Alex Theodorou. Jordan Jaslow put up a 9.850. Junior Emily White had a strong 9.900 performance before a 9.925 from Hannah Scharf.

At the end of the first rotation, the Gators led with a 49.575, followed by Arizona State (49.425), Maryland (49.275) and Penn State (49.000).

A Scare for Florida

For the second rotation, Florida took the floor, Maryland mounted the beam, Penn State was on the bars and Arizona State took the vault.

Jaslow vaulted first for Arizona State, putting up a 9.800. She was followed by two solid scores from Jada Mangahas (9.875) and Theodorou (9.900). After a 9.650 from Anaya Smith, White and senior Hannah Scharf closed out with 9.800s and above.

Victoria Nguyen posted a 9.925 for the Gators to start the rotation. Rachel Baumann was up next for Florida with a 9.700, after an uncharacteristic step out of bounds.

Payton Richards followed with a 9.900 before a near-perfect 9.975 from Wong, equaling her career-high.

Unfortunately, Trinity Thomas walked off the floor mid-routine due to a right lower leg injury. The crowd held their breath as she walked off the floor in tears. Thankfully, Thomas was able to walk out of the medical tent on her own and her current status is day-to-day.

DiCello finished the rotation for Florida with a 9.900.

On the bars, Johanson put up a 9.750 for the Lions. A 9.850 from Johnston and a 9.775 from Vihrova added to the Lions’ score. Junior Gabbie Gallentine added a 9.850 before two strong performances from Piedrahita (9.900) and Rushlow (9.950).

The beam saw a 9.775 from Emma Silberman to start off the rotation for Maryland. Junior Olivia Weir followed with a 9.750. Elizabeth Debarberie and Reese McClure added two 9.825s to Maryland’s score. Madeline Komoroski (9.850) and Josephine Kogler (9.900) closed out the second rotation for Maryland.

Halfway through the meet, Florida maintained their lead (98.975) over Arizona State (98.650), Maryland (98.450) and Penn State (98.325).

Nearly Perfect

With two rotations to go, the Gators were on the vault. Penn State mounted the beam, Maryland took the floor and Arizona State took the bars.

Leanne Wong started the rotation for the Gators with a 9.850 after a small hop on the landing. After a stuck landing, Richards added a 9.900 to Florida’s score before a 9.825 from Sloane Blakely.

DiCello posted a collegiate best 9.950 with a perfectly stuck landing. Added into the lineup in place of Trinity Thomas, sophomore Bri Edwards put up a 9.850.

Junior Chloi Clark rounded out the lineup for Florida with a 9.725.

On the bars, Gracie Reeves posted a 9.750 for Arizona State. Junior Cienna Samiley posted a 9.800 before a 9.850 from Mangahas. Scharf then added a 9.900.

Emily White and Sarah Clark finished the rotation with strong 9.925s.

Over on the beam, Piedrahita posted a 9.825 for Penn State before a 9.725 from Johanson. After Salcedo (9.875) and freshman Haleigh Gibble (9.800), Rushlow added a 9.750. Maddie Johnston put up a 9.900 to finish up for the Lions.

On the floor, Taylor Rech started for Maryland with a 9.800. LeBlanc added a 9.775 before two 9.875s from Komoroski and Tayler Osterhout. Silberman put up a solid 9.900 before a 9.850 from McClure to close out the rotation.

At the end of the third rotation, the Gators led with a 148.350 over Arizona State (148.050), Maryland (147.675) and Penn State (147.475).

With one rotation to go, Florida moved to the bars while Maryland went to vault, Arizona State mounted the beam and Penn State took the floor.

DiCello Strikes Gold

The fourth and final rotation saw Sloane Blakely start for Florida with a stuck landing (9.900). Blakely was followed by Victoria Nguyen, posting a 9.850.

DiCello was perfection on the bars. A perfectly stuck landing resulted in earning the title of the only freshman in the nation with multiple perfect 10.0s this season.

Leanne Wong added a 9.800 before McCusker with a 9.900. Payton Richards closed out the meet for the Gators with a 9.875.

Maryland’s Josephine Kogler posted a 9.800 to kick off the final rotation. Rech (9.750) and McClure (9.725) added the low scores of the rotation. No other gymnast put up above a 9.825 (Weir, Silberman, Alexsis Rubio).

On the beam, Arizona State’s Kayla Lee started with a 9.750. Gracie Reeves put up a 9.825 before a 9.875 from Skye Harper. Clark and White added two strong performances with a 9.900 and 9.925, respectively. Scharf closed out the night for ASU with a 9.925.

Over on the floor, Maddie Johnston put up a 9.800 for Penn State before two 9.900s from Piedrahita and Johanson. Vihrova was next with a 9.750, followed by a 9.900 from Salcedo. Amani Herring finished for the Lions with a 9.850.

At the end of the meet, the Gators were victorious with a score of 197.875. Arizona State followed behind with a 197.525, then Penn State (196.825) and Maryland (196.675). Both Florida and Arizona State will advance to the NCAA Regional Finals on Sunday.

Event Titles

Kayla Dicello took the vault (9.950) and bars (10.000) titles, while tying for the beam (9.950). Hannah Scharf and Riley McCusker shared the beam title with DiCello. The floor exercise went to Leanne Wong (9.975). With every routine at a 9.900 or above, DiCello took home the all-around title with a 39.800.

About Scarlett Cooney

Scarlett Cooney is a third-year journalism student specializing in sports and media.

Check Also

UConn Dan Hurley

UConn Head Coach Dan Hurley Declines Job Offer From Lakers

UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley has declined a lucrative offer to become the …