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Saturday, April 13, 2024
<p dir="ltr"><span>UF gymnast Trinity Thomas earned SEC Gymnast of the Week for her performance against Kentucky. She scored a 9.975 on the bars against the Wildcats.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

UF gymnast Trinity Thomas earned SEC Gymnast of the Week for her performance against Kentucky. She scored a 9.975 on the bars against the Wildcats.

 

It’s a paradox as old as time: What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? For the centuries the phrase has existed, it has never had an answer.

Not until tonight.

The No. 2 Gators gymnastics squad will take on the No. 1 team in the nation, the Oklahoma Sooners, tonight at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. UF defeated Oklahoma when it came to the O’Connell Center last year, and the Sooners will look for revenge as they host Florida on their home mat.

Here’s what to watch out for in the two teams’ fourth meeting in 371 days.

Sooner or Later

The last time the Sooners hosted UF in 2015, they put on a clinic.

They ended the meet with an overall score of 198.500. They placed higher than a 49.500 in every event, and two of their gymnasts scored perfect 10s.

It’s that success that Oklahoma will try to replicate as it defends its 30-meet win streak at home, a streak that started in 2014.

To paraphrase wrestling legend Ric Flair, you have to beat the best to be the best, and Oklahoma has proved unequivocally this season that it’s well deserving of the title.

So far, it’s the only team this season to eclipse the 198 mark, scoring a 198.050 against Arkansas. On top of that, Oklahoma also holds the other two scores that round out 2019’s top three.

Gymnasts to watch out for include the Sooners’ not-so-secret weapon on bars, senior Nicole Lehrmann. She has scored a 9.9 or higher on 39 of her 50 career bar routines, including a run last year where she achieved the feat in 14 consecutive meets. Others to watch in the red and cream include Maggie Nichols, who scored a perfect 10 on the vault in Oklahoma’s first meet of the season, and freshman Olivia Trautman, who hasn’t dipped below 9.925 on any of her floor routines this season.

Stormin’ Norman

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Earlier this season, the Gators shattered LSU’s 35-meet home winning streak in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Tonight, they’ll try and end Oklahoma’s 30-meet home winning streak, and though the team had the upper hand in last year’s meet, coach Jenny Rowland hasn’t been reminiscing.

“Dwelling on the past is something I’d like to say I’m not a big fan of,” Rowland said. “Last year, that was a different team."

Rowland has preached about “being normal” and treating every meet and routine just like any other. Despite the pressure that comes with a heavyweight bout like this one, Rowland’s gymnasts appear to be following her advice.

“We’re just gonna go in and treat it like a normal meet,” senior Amanda Cheney said. “Not paying attention to No. 1 vs. No 2.”

It’ll likely take all the firepower the team has to best the Sooners, something Florida isn’t lacking in.

Freshman Trinity Thomas improved her score each week as the team’s all-arounder and notched an impressive 9.975 on the bars against Kentucky. The team also has its senior leader in Alicia Boren, who had a 9.950 on bars and 9.925 on the floor last week.

Though UF  fielded some impressive scores in its first three weeks of competition, sophomore Megan Skaggs explained that to beat the Sooners, it isn’t about being flashy or spectacular on the mat.

“We know that we have to hit and we have to do well,” Skaggs said. “But we don’t have to do anything special. I think it’s great we’ve really come to understanding that this year.”

Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at rwells@alligator.org. 

UF gymnast Trinity Thomas earned SEC Gymnast of the Week for her performance against Kentucky. She scored a 9.975 on the bars against the Wildcats.

 

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