Florida's Trinity Thomas competes on the uneven parallel bars during the semifinals of the NCAA women's gymnastics championships, Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Gators Gymnastics Advances to NCAA Championship

The No. 2 Florida Gymnastics team is headed to its 16th NCAA championship meet in its last 18th semifinal appearances. The Gators (197.40) finished just behind No. 6 Louisiana State (197.475) in Thursday’s semifinal, eliminating California and Denver from title contention. UF and LSU will take on No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 Utah in Saturday’s championship meet at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Gators Complete Semifinal Comeback, Trinity Thomas Returns

Florida began the afternoon with the bars. The first rotation saw Trinity Thomas return to action after suffering a lower right leg injury during NCAA Regional Round II floor exercise competition, which sidelined her for the Regional Final. Thomas put up a 9.95 and Leanne Wong scored a 9.9375 to give UF a 0.05 lead heading into the balance beam.

The Gators struggled on the beam and registered a season-low 49.0875 tally, dropping them to last place with two rotations to go. Florida bounced back and jumped all the way back up to first thanks to its floor performance. The Gators’ 49.525 mark on the floor was their third-highest floor total in NCAA semifinal action. Wong again impressed my leading the team with a 9.9625 score.

Florida wrapped up the meet with a 49.3 on the vault to finish second and secure a spot in its 39th NCAA championship meet in school history. Florida has not won a national title since its three-peat from 2013-15.

Opponents Preview

The NCAA Championship meet features two teams that defeated Florida in the regular season in LSU and Oklahoma. The Tigers took down the Gators in Baton Rouge Feb. 17 while Florida lost in Oklahoma March 3. The Sooners and Utes advanced from the other NCAA semifinal and eliminated UCLA and Kentucky.

Oklahoma is the defending national champion after defeating Florida, Utah and Auburn a year ago. Utah is making its third consecutive championship meet appearance and is the lone Pac-12 representative.

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