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

Florida Gymnastics advances to the next round of the 2023 NCAA Championships

The Florida gymnastics team has qualified for the NCAA Championships after its performance at NCAA Regionals over the weekend.  Florida placed second against Cal, Arizona State, and Michigan at the NCAA Regional Finals. The NCAA Championships take place in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rotation 1

The Gators started the regionals on bars with Cal on vault, Arizona State on floor, and Michigan on beam. Sloane Blakely, Victoria Nguyen, Kayla DiCello, Leanne Wong, Riley McCusker, and Payton Richards competed on bars for Florida. Payton Richards is stepping in for Trinity Thomas, who injured her lower leg on night one of the regional. Leanne Wong had the highest score for the Gators, with a 9.975. Kayla DiCello followed with a 9.950 and Rylee McCusker with a 9.925. After the first rotation, the Gators were in first with a leading score of 49.575, and Michigan was in second place. 

Rotation 2

For the second rotation, the Gators were on beam, Arizona State was on vault, Cal was on bars, and Michigan was on the floor. The Gators had almost the same roster for this rotation, they just switched out Victoria Nguyen for Ellie Lazzari. For the Gators, the beam was smooth sailing as the lowest score was 9.850 in the event. Leanne Wong had the highest score again with 9.975. Senior Payton Richards, who was put in last minute closed the rotation with a 9.900, tying her season-best. After the first rotation, the Gator’s total score was 49.575, for this rotation, the Gator’s final score was 49.600. After the second rotation, the Gators continued their lead with a 99.175.

Rotation 3

Rotation three consisted of the Gators on floor, Cal on the beam, Michigan on the vault, and, Arizona on bars. Nguyen started this rotation off with a solid 9.850. Rachel Baumann took the spotlight for the first time on the night but she stepped out on her routine, resulting in a deduction which led to a lower score of 9.650. Richards was able to match her beam score and scored a 9.900 on her floor routine. Sloane Blakely closed the Gators for rotation number three. Along with her teammate Baumann, Blakely stepped outside the line in her routine, resulting in a deduction. 

During this rotation, the Cal Golden Bears had a powerful rotation that consisted of three 9.900 and three 9.950 scores. The lowest score they had to drop was 9.900. After the third rotation, Cal was in second, closely trailing Florida. The Gators stayed in the leading position with 148.500 and the Golden Bears with 148.450.


Rotation 4

For the fourth and final rotation, the Gatos were on vault. Kicking the last rotation off for the Gators was Leanne Wong, scoring 9.900. Richards, who usually starts the rotation off for the Gators, took the second-place slot this time. Richards finished her meet off scoring her best collegiate score of 9.950  Junior Chloi Clark competed for the first time, scoring a 9.825. For the anchor position, Bri Edwards was taken off the bench at the last minute to compete for the Gators and she rose to the occasion and scored a 9.750, advancing the Gators to the next round of the NCAA Championship.

Cal had another strong rotation, resulting in them winning the meet with a 198.075. For the first time in school history, the Golden Bears will advance to the next round which will be taking place in Fort Worth, Texas.

About Lain Shahboz

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