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UF Gymnastics: Gators Third at SEC Championships

Freshman Ellie Lazzari (above) shared the Southeastern Conference balance beam title with senior teammate Alyssa Baumann. She was the top freshman in the SEC all-around, taking sixth at 39.475.
Photo By: Michael Wade

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY MARY HOWARD

Florida came to the Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championship meet looking for its second trophy of 2021. The Gators, the 2021 SEC regular-season champions and the meet’s top seed, finished third after some struggles Saturday in the Von Braun Center.

Florida never led Saturday as the Gators had a fall or major break on each rotation.

Alabama claimed its 10th title and first since 2015 at 197.875. LSU was second at 197.775. Florida was third with a season-low 196.975. Rounding out Saturday’s results were Kentucky (196.825), Auburn (196.275), Missouri (196.125), and Arkansas (195.60).

LSU led all teams on vault (49.625) and floor (49.50). Alabama had top total on bars (49.425), and Florida again led on beam (49.525). Florida was forced to count a fall on bars for the first time since 2010.

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Florida’s Trinity Thomas, the nation’s top all-arounder, was limited to just uneven bars Saturday. She injured her ankles during uneven bars warm-up at Alabama on March 5.

Gators Event Winners:

A pair of Gators were among a four-way tie for first on beam.

     *   Third consecutive SEC beam title for senior Alyssa Baumann, becoming the first in the event’s 40-year history to win three beam titles. Her winning marks were 9.975 (2018) and 9.95 (2019, 2021).
     *   Freshman Ellie Lazzari is the first freshman to claim a share of the beam title since Baumann won 2018 title.

Four Gators posted or equaled collegiate or season-best marks Saturday:

Alyssa Baumann 9.95        Beam     Season best
Leah Clapper       9.85        Floor       Collegiate best
Jazmyn Foberg    9.85        Vault       Season best
Ellie Lazzari          9.90        Floor       Collegiate best

2021 SEC Scholar-Athlete: Leah Clapper

Earlier today, junior Leah Clapper was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. This is the fourth such honor for the Gator program, and Clapper is the first to receive the award since Alex McMurtry claimed the 2017 and 2018 honors.

“Once it hit me that I’m the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, I was just kind of blown away. That is such an amazing honor, and I am so flattered to have received it, and I don’t think I’m ever going to forget it,” Clapper said. “Scholar athlete. That’s what I came to Florida to do, so it feels really great to be honored for it.”

Quoting the Gators:

Florida’s performance tonight:
“It wasn’t one of the Gators’ best meet. The momentum [made it] hard to continue to move forward throughout the evening, which makes for a really challenging competition. On beam, the momentum picked up. We had five really solid hit routines after [Payton Richard’s fall], so momentum was flowing, momentum was going forward.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

On Ellie Lazzari’s SEC Beam Title:
“I just wanted to finish out strong, and [with it] being my freshman year, I just wanted to soak everything in and experience all the amazing energy in the arena, so I was really excited about my performance.

“I always know that this team has my back, and I will always have theirs, and I just want to pick up the momentum and get the fire going, so that’s what I did.” – freshman Ellie Lazzari

“She really had a great night overall. As our freshman all-arounder tonight, she stepped up and competed with so much grace, so much courage, and did a really nice job just staying present with the team, keeping that momentum moving forward. I couldn’t have asked for much more from Ellie tonight.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

On her balance beam win:
“I was glad that I was able to do that beam routine because we really needed it at the time. It was a goal going into this meet to win beam again so I was happy I was able to do that.” – senior Alyssa Baumann

Team’s problem on bars:
“We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes – mistakes that we don’t see in the gym that often. Not sure if it was pressure or what the issue was but it wasn’t normal for us. Hopefully we’ll learn from tonight and move forward.” – senior Alyssa Baumann

Moving forward in the post-season:
“I really am 100 percent confident that this team has the courage to take the step forward and continue to do what they’ve been doing, and training with that confidence and conviction.

“[We will] reset, refocus, and that’s what these Gators are really good at. They have that strength, they have that courage, and I know this is gonna sting a lot for them, but it’s going to give them that little fuel to continue to take those steps forward and persevere for a couple more meets. That’s what we have ahead of us, and I know the Gators are going to finish strongly.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

Up Next:

Florida finds out where it will head for NCAA Regional Championship action. Four sites will play host to NCAA Regional action the first weekend of April.
 
The reveal for the 2021 NCAA Regional fields is Monday, March 22 at 5 p.m. ET on NCAA.com.
 
All action for NCAA Regional Second and Final round action can be found on ESPN3.

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