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UF Gymnastics: No. 1 Gators Win at No. 6 Alabama

Junior Savannah Schoenherr captures the Gators’ mood at the end of No. 1 Florida’s come-from-behind win Friday at No. 6 Alabama.

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY MARY HOWARD

The top-ranked Gator gymnasts weren’t in the mood to share.

Even with Florida junior standout Trinity Thomas sidelined due to an injury in warm-ups, the No. 1 Gator gymnastics team put together a winning performance Friday at No. 6 Alabama. Florida took the win 197.425 – 197.225 in front of a physically distanced Coleman Coliseum crowd of 2,055.

With the win, Florida claims sole possession of the 2021 Southeastern Conference regular-season title. Heading into tonight’s SEC finale, Alabama needed a win to share the title with Florida.

Coleman Coliseum is not a site of many Gator victories. Florida is now 3-16 in dual meet action at Alabama, with those wins coming in 1979, 2019 and now 2021.

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7-0 SEC SEASON:
Tonight’s win gives Florida its second consecutive undefeated SEC regular-season at 7-0. The 2020 Gator team was the program’s first to post a 7-0 league record.

The league began awarding a SEC regular-season trophy in 2017. This is Florida’s third consecutive SEC regular-season title: 2019 (6-1), 2020 (7-0), and 2021 (7-0).

Beginning in 1992, all league teams met during regular season action. Florida was unbeaten in the 2007 season with a 5-0-1 record. That tie? It came when No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Georgia tied at 197.25 on Jan. 28, 2007 in Stegeman Coliseum.

TONIGHT’S MEET
Florida struggled to find stuck landings for its uneven bars routines Friday. Junior Savannah Schoenherr led Florida on bars to share second with UA’s Shanie Adams at 9.925. Florida trailed by 0.225 after the opening rotation.

The Gator Stick Chain found its way around several necks on the next rotation. Three Gators posted runner-up vault marks of 9.90 – Ellie Lazzari, Megan Skaggs, and Nya Reed. That mark equals Lazzari’s collegiate best for the second consecutive meet. At the midway point, Florida narrowed the Tide lead to 0.15.

Florida looked strong on floor exercise, posting a 49.525 for a narrow 0.05 lead heading into the final rotation. Three Gators posted marks of 9.9 or better – Lazzari (9.90), Reed (9.95), and Alyssa Baumann (9.975). Two of those marks – Lazzari and Baumann – equaled their collegiate bests, and Baumann shared the meet title with UA’s Lexi Graber.

With the meet title still undecided, the Gators sealed the win with a six-for-six balance beam set. Skaggs shared the beam win with Alabama’s Luisa Blanco at 9.925. Lazzari turned in her third 9.9 of the evening on beam.

Blanco won the all-around (39.70), vault (9.925), uneven bars (9.95), and shared beam (9.925). Skaggs was just off her collegiate-best, taking second at 39.575. A collegiate-best 39.525 put Lazzari in third.

THOMAS INJURY:
Trinity Thomas injured her ankles during pre-meet uneven bars warm-up. She was held out of competition as a precautionary measure as the team looks ahead to the SEC Championships meet in a couple of weeks.

GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:

  *   Baumann claimed her second floor win of the season and the sixth of her collegiate career.
  *   Skaggs wins her second beam title of 2021 and the fourth as a Gator.
  *   Schoenherr posted a 9.875 to anchor balance beam. It was her first collegiate appearance in the Gators’ beam lineup.
  *   Five marks tonight equaled or set collegiate bests:
     *   Alyssa Baumann – 9.975 (floor)
     *   Ellie Lazzari – 9.90 (vault), 9.90 (floor), all-around (39.525)
     *   Savannah Schoenherr  – 9.875 (beam)

RECORDS: Florida (8-0, 7-0 SEC), Alabama (6-2, 5-2 SEC)

THE SERIES: Alabama leads the series 74-48-2.

HEAR FROM THE GATORS:

Gators’ performance tonight:
“It wasn’t the strongest or sharpest start for the Gators, but really that last bar routine, the excitement just kind of did a reset for the Gators, and vault was a complete reset.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

“We had some stellar performances tonight on vault. Three stuck landings on vault, three 9.9’s in a row from Ellie [Lazzari], [Megan] Skaggs, and Nya [Reed]. [On] floor, Alyssa Baumann had a collegiate best 9.975, really excited for her. And first time that Savannah Schoenherr has ever competed beam for the Gators, so what a way to debut beam, away, with a 9.875. There’s been so much adversity that this team has faced throughout the season, and they should be able to carry and take away a lot from this year and feel good going into postseason.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

On the Gators’ regular undefeated season:
“I think a goal of all of ours is to just be the best team that we can be. And looking at how we’ve done this year, we know that an undefeated season is totally within reach for us, so we rallied before that last event. Of course, we were ready to win it and we weren’t going to let anything stop us from winning.” – senior Megan Skaggs

On Trinity Thomas’ pre-meet injury:
“Trinity peeled off bars during warmups, and out of precaution it was in her best interest to rest her tonight and have her ready and prepared to go for postseason, which starts in about two weeks.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

“You could see that the team was sincerely upset for Trinity. Yet this team [has] one heart, they work together, and they did it for each other. [They] persevered, and I do believe that that’s what helped them get through this entire competition tonight.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

“It was hard to see Trinity go down, and of course she’s such a strong player for our team, but this team is ready for a challenge, under any circumstances, and we were ready to step up. I’m so glad that some gymnasts who have been training super hard stepped up and delivered tonight. That was so great to see.” – senior Megan Skaggs

“I’m so proud of the team tonight. I knew they could do it no matter what. I have so much trust and faith in them, and I knew that they had my back. I was so proud to see them go one event at a time and just hit and hit, and they came out on top. I’m so proud of them and I wouldn’t expect any less; they’re amazing.” – junior Trinity Thomas

National Rank:
Florida – Florida is No. 1 in the Road to Nationals standings
UA- The Tide is No. 6

UP NEXT:
The Southeastern Conference Championship meet is up next.

When:                    Saturday, March 20. UF competes in Session II at 8 p.m. ET
Venue:                   Von Braun Center
TV:                          SEC Network with Olympic medalists Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson-Clarke calling the action
Stream:                  WatchESPN
Tickets:                 Sold out

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