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Friday, February 03, 2023
<p>Alyssa Baumann</p>

Alyssa Baumann

The official state song of Kentucky is “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The song is played each year before the Kentucky Derby and is synonymous with the Bluegrass State.

Florida’s gymnastics team has felt that hospitality over the years.

The Gators have only lost one meet ever in Lexington, Kentucky, and have won 10 straight.

On Friday night, they’ll try to make it 11 in a row as they travel to Lexington to take on the Wildcats. The meet will commence at 7 p.m. from Memorial Coliseum. It can be seen live on SEC Network+.

UK is coming into this meet confident that it can end the long losing streak. This is because it is off to one of its best starts in program history.

The ‘Cats are ranked No. 12 and are undefeated to start SEC play. Florida is the only other undefeated team in SEC play this season. UK’s only loss was in their first meet of the season to then-No. 5 Utah on the road.

“Competing in the SEC is the best experience for these student-athletes,” coach Jenny Rowland said. “You never have a down weekend, you’ve always got to be on your toes, and it prepares you a lot for the postseason.”

The Wildcats’ two SEC wins are over teams that UF already beat – Missouri and Arkansas.

The star of Kentucky’s squad is senior Mollie Korth. Her all-around score of 39.625 against the Razorbacks and Tigers are season-high’s for UK. She also won the SEC Gymnast of the Week in Week 1.

However, the Wildcats will have to deal with a Florida team that is already in mid-season form. The No. 2 Gators are off to a 3-0 start, with all wins coming against teams ranked in Road to Nationals Top 25 – No. 14 Arkansas, No. 20 Missouri and No. 6 LSU.

UF’s win over the Bayou Bengals was arguably one of its biggest in recent school history. Sophomore Trinity Thomas was the star of the night for the orange and blue. She scored her first ever perfect score on the uneven bars and finished with a 9.975 on the floor. Because of her performance, she won the SEC Gymnast of the week, her fifth career win.

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Thomas’ teammates also excelled last week as three other athletes scored a 9.975 – Alyssa Baumann (beam), Rachel Gowey (beam) and Savannah Schoenherr (bars). Sophomore Sydney Johnson-Scharpf’s score of 9.925 on the beam was the highest for a Gator making her beam debut.

“I was very happy about (being in the beam lineup),” Johnson-Scharpf said. “I kept everything normal coming from training in the gym and taking it on the floor and leaving it all out there.”

Those scores helped contribute to Florida setting numerous records. Its score (198.375) was the third-highest in program history, and its beam score of 49.675 tied the program’s top mark. Finally, the Gators scored at least a 49.65 in three rotations, becoming the third school to do so.

“I’ve never been so excited to travel to Kentucky,” Rowland said. “I’m really excited to see this team perform and carry over what this team has learned and see it transfer over this weekend.”

Follow Noah on Twitter @noah_ram1 and contact him at nram@alligator.org.

Alyssa Baumann

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Noah Ram

Noah is a third year journalism-sports and media student from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He has been with The Alligator since Spring 2019 and has covered men’s and women’s tennis, gymnastics and volleyball. When he isn’t on his beat, Noah is usually sadden over his beloved South Florida sports teams, such as the Heat and Dolphins.


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