Last season’s Gators had an Achilles heel — the vault.
Their season high was a 49.475 against Kentucky. But it appears they left their struggles in 2020, scoring a 49.550 against the No. 14 Tigers. The traveling Gators ultimately dominated Auburn 197.500 to 195.725, Friday night.
No. 1 Florida’s meet against Auburn was an exhibition and won’t count toward the SEC regular season standings.
For the first rotation, Florida started on the uneven parallel bars while Auburn started on the vault. The Gators looked like they finally rolled out of bed after hitting the snooze button several times. No Florida gymnast ended up scoring higher than 9.875, which led to an overall score of 49.050. It was lower than any bars score UF posted last season.
However, juniors Trinity Thomas and Leah Clapper proved they were already in regular season form, both scoring 9.875. Junior Savannah Schoenherr and senior Megan Skaggs followed them with scores of 9.825 and 9.750, respectively. Then freshman Gabrielle Gallentine had the lowest score with a 9.350, which was dropped.
The slow start was expected after a 10 month layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Auburn still failed to capitalize on the Gators missteps, only leading 49.100 to 49.050.
UF then moved to the vaulting table for the second rotation while the Tigers replaced them on bars.
Sophomore Payton Richards and Schoenherr recorded UF’s lowest scores of 9.875 on vault. Florida also notched the four highest scores between both squads. Thomas filed the highest score on the event, nearly achieving that elusive perfect score with a 9.975. Freshman Ellie Lazzari, Skaggs and Nya Reed followed Thomas, adding 9.900 to the total score.
Florida stole the lead for the first time in the meet, leading 98.600 to 98.100 with its vault performance. UF and Auburn then turned their attention to the floor and beam exercises.
The Gators, on the floor, seized the opportunity to increase their lead. They padded their lead to 0.825 over the Tigers. Thomas, once again, had the top score, with a 9.950. Despite a fall from Florida senior Alyssa Baumann resulting in a dropped score of 9.225, junior Nya Reed and Thomas salvaged its performance, notching scores of 9.925 and 9.950.
While Auburn rotated to the floor, UF saved its best performance for last on beam. Thomas, Baumann and Lazzari carried the Gators to a score of 49.600, aiding them to a 197.500 to 195.725 victory over Rowland’s former program in the plains.
The team wasn’t available for media after the meet.
Florida returns to the O’Dome next Friday against No. 10 Georgia at 6:45 p.m. The meet can be streamed on ESPN2.
Contact Zachary Huber at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @zacharyahuber