Morgan Hurd, junior, performs her floor routine at the Exactech Arena in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla., for the 2024 Gators Gymnastics Hype Night on Dec. 4, 2023. (Augustus Hoff/WRUF)

Gators Gymnastics Secures SEC Road Win Against Georgia

The Florida Gators gymnastics team is back in the win column after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 197.425-197.300 Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.

Florida (5-1, 2-1 in SEC) sought redemption after being edged out by Alabama last week, a loss that snapped its 20-meet win streak at the O’Connell Center.

Florida Strikes First

The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-4) started the meet on the vault, while Florida was on bars.

Ashlyn LaClair put Georgia on the board with a strong 9.850. Amanda Cashman added a 9.775 before a 9.850 from star freshman Lily SmithKatie Finnegan (9.850) and Ady Wahl (9.775) closed out the first rotation for the Bulldogs.

Sloane Blakely started for the Gators, posting a 9.575 after a big step on the landing. Victoria Nguyen picked up the energy with a 9.825. Freshman Gabby Disidore brought Florida their first stuck landing of the night, earning a 9.875 and a career-high bars score.

Anya Pilgrim built on the momentum with another stick, posting a 9.875 before Ellie Lazzari put up a huge 9.900. In the anchor spot, Leanne Wong ended rotation one with a 9.875

At the end of the first rotation the Gators led 49.350-49.150.

Vaulting to Career Highs

Rotation two saw Florida on vault and Georgia on the bars.

Freshman Skylar Draser earned a career high in the lead-off spot for the Gators, posting a powerful 9.900 with her teammates cheering her on. Lazzari redeemed herself after her fall on vault last week, adding a 9.825.

Pilgrim put up a massive 9.925 to increase the Gators’ lead, tying her career high. Blakely put up a 9.850 followed by another 9.925, this time from Wong.

Danie Ferris finished on vault for Florida with a 9.850.

On the bars, stuck landings seemed to be contagious for the Bulldogs, as Naya Howard started with a 9.875. Wahl followed with a 9.875 before two 9.900s from Holly Snyder and JaFree Scott.

Smith rounded out the rotation with a 9.950. She earned a perfect 10.0 in Georgia’s loss to Missouri in week three.

After two, the Gators held a .200 lead, 98.800-98.600. Three scores above 9.900 helped Florida maintain the lead.

Halfway Through

Florida took the floor for rotation three while Georgia mounted the beam.

After a clean performance and a 9.775 from Wahl, Zora Morgan and Jaydah Battle added two 9.875s to the Bulldogs’ score. A big 9.900 from Scott rounded out the rotation for Georgia.

Draser opened for the Gators on the floor with a solid 9.800 before two outstanding routines from Nguyen and Morgan Hurd (9.900). Hurd secured a career high on floor.

Payton Richards closed out the rotation for Florida with a 9.825 to put the Gators up 148.100-147.900.

Gators Hold On for the Win

On the floor, Eryn Williams stepped out of bounds on her second tumbling pass, resulting in a 9.700.

Lily Smith gave the final performance of the night (9.925), securing her first all-around title.

Mounting the beam for Florida, Draser proved her consistency, posting a 9.850. Blakely followed with a stellar 9.925.

Pilgrim’s stuck dismount could be heard for miles as she put up a 9.900. Beam queen Ellie Lazzari added a huge 9.925 for her final routine.

Wong wrapped up the night with an uncharacteristic slip while mounting the beam. She recovered for a 9.300.

Event Titles

Wong and Pilgrim tied for the vault title (9.925). Sloane Blakely tied Ellie Lazzari for the beam with 9.925s. Georgia’s Lily Smith secured the bars (9.950), floor (9.925) and all-around title (39.600).

The Gators will host the Arkansas Razorbacks in their annual Link to Pink meet starting at 7:15 p.m. Friday on ESPN.

About Scarlett Cooney

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

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