Florida gymnastics coach Jenny Rowland led the Gators to fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championship on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Gators Gymnastics Places Fourth At NCAA Championship

The No. 4 Florida Gators gymnastics team placed fourth in the NCAA Championship on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.

The LSU Tigers were crowned champions with a team score of 198.225. Cal placed second (197.850), Utah third (197.800) and Florida fourth (197.4375) at Dickies Arena.

Starting on Vault

Freshman rock Skylar Draser started things for the Gators on vault with a solid 9.875. Victoria Nguyen followed with a 9.850 before a small hop forward resulted in a 9.800 for Anya Pilgrim.

Pilgrim noted how proud she is of the team making it to the finals.

Danie Ferris broke into the 9.900s for Florida with a near-perfect landing (9.9125). After sticking her landing in the semifinals, Leanne Wong landed with her chest slightly low, earning a 9.8125.

Florida didn’t seem to have its usual vault spark in the finals, only posting a 49.25 after a 49.50 in the semifinals.

The Tigers were the stars of rotation one on the floor. Freshman Konnor McClain scored a huge 9.925 to put LSU on the board. Amari Drayton kept the momentum going with a 9.9125.

The 2024 NCAA floor exercise champion Aleah Finnegan proved why with a 9.9125. NCAA all-around champion Haleigh Bryant led the Tigers with a 9.9375.

On the beam, eMjae Frazier led the Bears with a 9.9500 before a 9.900 from Mya Lauzon.

Utah’s Maile O’Keefe (9.900) and Grace McCallum (9.950) broke into the 9.900s for the Utes.

Counting five scores above 9.900, LSU took an early lead. Cal held second, Utah third and Florida fourth.

So Many Sticks

Sloane Blakely had Florida’s first stick of the meet on the uneven bars, posting a 9.8625. The sticks were contagious for the Gators, ending the rotation with a 9.900 from Draser and a near-perfect 9.950 from Wong.

In the lead-off spot for Utah, Amelie Morgan put up a 9.9125 on beam. McCallum was red-hot once again, posting a 9.9375.

After a slow start on vault, LSU’s Kiya Johnson brought the energy with a 9.9125. Bryant added to her all-around score with a powerful 9.950.

A pair of 9.9125s for the Bears from Lauzon and Frazier helped protect their third-place spot.

Despite gaining some ground, Florida remained in fourth through two rotations (98.7250). LSU kept first, Utah second and Cal third.

Beam Breaks

Draser added her second 9.900 of the night for the Gators, this time on beam. Blakely capitalized on the strong start, posting a career-high 9.950.

Unfortunately, this is where things began to unravel. They counted a 9.6625 from Nguyen due to an uncharacteristic fall from Wong.

After a fall on floor for Cal, Kyen Mayhew redeemed herself on vault with a 9.900 before a big 9.9375 from Frazier. The first stick on vault belonged to Lauzon, resulting in a 9.950.

Utah was lights out on floor, with all six scores at 9.900 or above. Three 9.9250s in a row helped the Utes steal first place from the Tigers (O’Keefe, Paulson, Gilstrap).

https://twitter.com/UtahGymnastics/status/1781795232759136592

On the bars, Alexis Jeffrey and Konnon McClain posted 9.900s to lead the Tigers through rotation three.

With one rotation left, Utah took first, LSU second, Cal third and Florida fourth.

Tigers Take It

On the floor, Nguyen led off with a 9.9125 before a solid 9.8875 from Lazzari. Wong delivered the final performance of the night, posting a 9.950.

Lazzari commented on the team’s journey this season.

Two big mistakes from the Utes on vault opened the door back up for the Tigers. Sierra Ballard started with a huge 9.950 on beam and LSU fans were electric.

Despite a fall from former Gator Savannah Schoenherr (9.3875), McClain stopped the bleeding with a 9.9625. A trio of 9.9500s from Johnson, Bryant and Finnegan secured the national title for LSU.

Ashley Glynn posted a 9.9125 for Utah after mistakes from Camie Winger and Ella Zirbes. Jaedyn Rucker and McCallum finished strong with two 9.900s.

LSU earned its first national title in program history with a 198.225.

Event Titles

Haleigh Bryant and Lauzon shared the vault title (9.950). Leanne Wong and Grace McCallum tied on bars (9.950). Konnor McClain took the beam (9.9625) and Wong secured the floor title (9.950). Bryant and eMjae Frazier shared the all around title (39.7125).

Florida, which last won the NCAA title in 2015, finished the season better than many expected by winning the NCAA Gainesville Regional and advancing from the second national semifinal Thursday night.

Coach Jenny Rowland said she is proud of how the Gators performed this year.

About Scarlett Cooney

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

Check Also

Gators Outlast Bulldogs In 19-11 Slugfest To Secure Series Victory

Everything the Gators had worked for this year had come down to this. One final …