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UF Gymnastics: No. 1 Gators Nip No. 2 LSU Tigers

The Gators celebrate Alyssa Baumann’s floor routine at No. 2 LSU. No. 1 Florida posted the nation’s leading total of 2021 to take a 198.15 – 198.05 win at No. 2 LSU.
Photo By: Jacob Reeder-LSU Athletics

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY MARY HOWARD

The nation’s top total of the season gave No. 1 Gator gymnastics a 198.15 – 198.05 win at No. 2 LSU Friday in front of physically-distanced sellout Pete Maravich Assembly Center crowd.

It was exactly what was expected for this meeting between the nation’s top two teams. Florida trailed by two-tenths after the opening rotation and still trailed by two-tenths as the two teams headed to the events in which they held the nation’s top average (Florida: beam; LSU: floor).

The nation’s top balance beam total of 2021 (49.65) pushed Florida to a final 198.15. LSU’s final floor competitor had trouble on her closing tumbling pass, and Florida edged the Tigers by a tenth for the team win.

Tight finishes are traditional between these two teams as less than two-tenths separated five of the last seven UF-LSU meetings.

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OVERCOMING THIRD ROTATION DEFICIT

The last time Florida won a regular-season meet after a third-rotation deficit?

It was Jan. 18, 2019 when Florida overcame a 0.05 deficit at No. 5 LSU for a 0.075 win.

FRIDAY’S MEET

There were strong Gator performances throughout the evening, but junior Trinity Thomas was spectacular Friday. Her 39.90 all-around performance – which included a 10.0 on floor – set the Florida school record. It is also No. 5 all-time in NCAA history. She won at least a share of every event title Friday.

Florida trailed the Tigers by two-tenths after opening the meet with a 49.40 on uneven bars. Thomas won the uneven bars title with her first of two near-perfect 9.975s. Junior Savannah Schoenherr equaled her season bars best 9.925.

On vault, the Gators matched their season high of 49.55. Thomas equaled her collegiate best to take the event title with a 9.975. Florida also got marks of 9.925 from Reed and 9.9 by Schoenherr.

It was a season-high 49.55 for the Gators on floor exercise, led by Thomas’ 10.0. Reed shared second with LSU’s Alyona Shchennikova and Sierra Ballard at 9.925. Senior Alyssa Baumann posted a 9.90 in her first return to the floor lineup since UF’s second meet of 2021.

Florida showed no nerves despite an early miss in the beam lineup. All five routines counting toward its season-best 49.65 total were 9.90 or better. Freshman Ellie Lazzari equaled her collegiate best of 9.95 to share the beam title with Thomas. Sophomore Payton Richards and Baumann shared third with three Tigers at 9.925. Junior Leah Clapper anchored the Gators’ beam set with a 9.90 to put UF in position for the team win.

Richards set her all-around best of 39.525 to take second. Lazzari, making her collegiate all-around debut, took third at 39.30.

GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:

  *   Florida now has the nation’s top (198.15), No. 3 (197.85) and No. 6 (197.50) team totals of 2021.
  *   Thomas claiming at least a share of every event title is the first for the Gators since Alex McMurtry versus Nebraska on March 9, 2018.
  *   Thomas’ all-around total sets Florida’s record. She shared the previous record of 39.825 with Alaina Johnson (3-7-14), Bridget Sloan (3-14-14), and Alex McMurtry (3-9-18)
  *   Event totals among Florida all-time top 10: Beam 49.65 (T4th), Vault 49.55 (T9th)
  *   Seven marks tonight equaled or set collegiate bests:
     *   Ellie Lazzari – 9.95 (beam), 39.30 (all-around)
     *   Nya Reed – 9.925 (vault)
     *   Payton Richards – 9.875 (floor), 39.525 (all-around)
     *   Trinity Thomas – – 9.975 (vault), 39.90 (all-around)

RECORDS: Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC), LSU (4-1, 3-1 SEC)

THE SERIES: Florida leads the series 73-41.

HEAR FROM THE GATORS:

Gators’ performance tonight:
“What an awesome, amazing, wonderful night. Really, number one, number two. These two teams bring out the best in each other. They always have and they always will. Props to LSU for an incredible meet tonight – the crowd was here and the energy was here. Our team was present.

“We came in knowing that those quarter of a tenths were going to be the difference. We’ve been working so hard in the gym for those little details – fighting for landings, fighting for handstands, and fighting to stay present. Tonight there was so much fight all the way through to the very last dismount. This team showed so much passion, so much heart, and so much joy on the floor tonight. Just super proud to be a Florida Gator.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

National Rank:
Florida – Florida is No. 1 in the Road to Nationals standings
LSU- The Tigers are No. 2

UP NEXT:
A two-meet home stand begins with a Gainesville community favorite – the 14th Annual Gators Link to Pink versus Kentucky.

When:                    Friday, Feb. 19 at 6:45 p.m. ET. Gates open at 6 p.m.
Venue:                   Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
TV:                          SEC Network with Gator great Bridget Sloan and Courtney Lyle calling the action
Stream:                  SEC Network +
Tickets:                 Sold out

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