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UF Gymnastics: No. 1 Gators Open Home Action with Win Over No. 7 Georgia

Trinity Thomas opened the meet with a pair of event titles – vault and uneven bars – in No. 1 Florida’s win Friday over No. 7 Georgia.
Photo By: Tiffany Franco

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY MARY HOWARD

No. 1 Florida gymnastics opened home action Friday with a win over its most frequent opponent.

Florida started home action with a 197.25 – 196.075 win over No. 7 Georgia in front of a sold-out reduced-capacity Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center crowd of 2,203. It was the 154th meeting between the two programs, and tonight marked the 60th time one of the programs brought the No. 1 ranking into a meeting.

TONIGHT’S MEET
The Gators won the four apparatus titles. Junior Trinity Thomas won the opening two event titles. She used a 9.90 to claim her second consecutive vault title of 2021, then upped her season-high to 9.95 for the season’s first uneven bars win.

Leah Clapper was the only gymnast of the evening to pass 9.9 on balance beam, winning the second title of her collegiate career with a season-best 9.925.

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Half the Gator lineup posted floor exercise marks of 9.9 or better. Nya Reed upped her collegiate-best to a near perfect 9.975 for her first floor title since 2019. Senior Alyssa Baumann shared second at 9.925 with her GymDog sister, Rachel Baumann. Gator junior Sydney Johnson-Scharpf’s 9.90 on floor is a season best.

Georgia’s Haley de Jong claimed the all-around win at 39.17, just edging teammate Megan Roberts (39.15). Thomas took third at 38.90.

GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:

  *   Three Gators set or equaled collegiate bests tonight:
     *   Gabrielle Gallentine – 9.825 (bars)
     *   Leah Clapper – 9.80 (floor)
     *   Nya Reed – 9.975 (floor)
  *   With her two event wins Friday, Thomas moves into sole possession of ninth on Florida’s Career Events Titles list. She now owns 60 events titles. Ten more titles moves her into a tie for seventh with Ashanée Dickerson and Ann Woods.
  *   Reed is the nation’s third gymnast this season with a 9.975 or better floor mark. The other two are both from LSU – Kiya Johnson (10.0) and Haleigh Bryand (9.975).
  *   Thomas recorded her first fall on beam of her collegiate career Friday, posting a 9.25. She had 22 consecutive beam routines without a miss as a Gator.

RECORDS: Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC), Georgia (1-1, 0-1 SEC)

THE SERIES: Georgia leads the series 93-60-1.

HEAR FROM THE GATORS:

Gators’ performance tonight:
“I think that the team is still getting in the rhythm. And I think that we’re doing a great job. It’s a process. I feel like we still can do more and I feel like as the season continues to go, we will get better and better. It’s better to gradually get better than to peak too early.” – junior Nya Reed.

What was Coach Rowland’s message to the team tonight?
“Jenny’s message to us tonight was to really be ourselves. She stands by us no matter what. It’s great to have a coach to be able to lean on and who believes in us and what we stand for. She’s always going to be right there with us.” – junior Nya Reed

The 2020 seniors were honored tonight. What did you learn from that class?
“What we want is to be role models, just like them. So we carry their legacy and what they taught us like being calm and how to be leaders. It means a lot to be able to carry that legacy and to be able to be on a team with those individuals.” – junior Nya Reed

What was it like to be back competing at home again?
“It was amazing to be back in the O’Dome in front of the home crowd with such an amazing team. It’s been a long time coming. I can’t believe it’s been about exactly 10 months since we were supposed to have our last meet. It feels like it’s been a while, but it also feels like it went by in a blink of an eye.

“We’ve been working super hard this whole preseason to get ready to show our stuff in the O’Dome. There was a lot of excitement for tonight. A lot of nervous energy, but mainly we were all just so grateful to be able to get back out there tonight in front of Gator Nation and have a ton of fun.” – junior Leah Clapper

You’ve added bars and floor this year. How is that going?
“Since I got to Florida my freshman year, I’ve been training all four events. So it hasn’t been a huge transition because at basically every meet that I’ve ever been to as a Gator, I’ve warmed up on bars, beam and floor. So just being able to actually compete on all three of those events is so incredible.

“It’s super exciting to me because I’ve been working super hard in the gym and I’m so grateful that I finally got the chance to show my stuff on some other events. I look forward to keep working hard and getting just those incremental improvements on those events so I can contribute more to the team.” – junior Leah Clapper

On tonight’s performance:
“I’d say one of the most memorable nights in the O’Dome. It’s been a long time since the Gators have been here. Things looked a little bit different but extremely grateful and thankful to be back doing what we love doing. It was a very emotional night for many reasons.

“It was a solid night for the Gators. It wasn’t anything too sharp. It wasn’t anything crazy, but just some uncharacteristic things here and there. They left a little bit more out there tonight. However, I think this team handled those little mishaps really well and it didn’t. catch them off guard. Everybody was prepared and had each other’s back.

“So it was really good to see that everybody was able to still remain calm and just do what they’re capable of doing. So really proud of them – very gritty team.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

National Rank:
Florida – Florida is No. 1 in the Jan. 11 Road to National standings.
Georgia – The GymDogs are No. 7

UP NEXT:
It’s another top-10 matchup when Florida travels to No. 6 Arkansas.

When:                    Friday, Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. ET
Venue:                   Barnhill Arena
Streaming            TBA
Live Scoring:         Scores