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Thursday, February 25, 2021

This year’s gymnastics team could be one of UF’s best teams in recent memory

Despite missing four starters, Florida still won. And not only did Florida still win, it won with a score tied for its third highest this year.
Despite missing four starters, Florida still won. And not only did Florida still win, it won with a score tied for its third highest this year.

Benjamin Franklin wrote the following words in 1789 that would become immortalized in modern lexicon: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

If he saw this year’s UF gymnastics squad, he would have made an addendum: Death, taxes and coach Jenny Rowland’s squad emerging victorious.

With the Gators’ perfect 6-0 record and No. 1 status, it’s easy to realize how good they are, but their success goes far deeper than that.

The team has dominated this year, with a win over No. 2 LSU and three-time 2021 SEC Gymnast of the Week Trinity Thomas. But it’s what Florida did last Friday that cements it as one of UF’s best teams in recent memory.

Before Florida’s annual “Link to Pink” meet, the Gators announced they were down four starters due to COVID-19 contact tracing guidelines: 14-time SEC Gymnast of the Week Trinity Thomas, three-time 2021 SEC Specialist of the Week Nya Reed, 2020 two-time All-American and All-SEC gymnast Savannah Schoenherr and initial beam and floor starter Sydney Johnson-Scharpf.

The devastating losses didn’t stop there, though. Rowland wasn’t permitted to coach during the meet, leaving assistant coaches Adrian Burde and Owen Field in her stead. Any team down four starters and its coach would be in very bad shape, even more so with three of those gymnasts being the best on UF’s roster.

But not this team.

Florida still won. And not only did Florida still win, it won with a score tied for its third highest this year and fourth largest margin of victory in six meets. Three gymnasts who competed made their collegiate or season debut in three events.

To beat Kentucky with so many phenomenal gymnasts out is an incredible attachment to the depth the team has. If the team keeps up its stellar performances through its next two meets against Auburn and Alabama, it’s well on its way to an undefeated regular season slate before heading to the SEC Championships.

Simply put, this is perhaps the best Florida team across any sport I’ve ever seen since I got to the university fall 2017. 

With incredible depth and no signs of slowing down, the  Gators gymnastics team can easily win the SEC and make it to Super Six like it appears destined to do. 

It would not only stand up to great recent teams like the 2018 and 2019 track and field teams or the 2017 women’s tennis squad. It would join teams from the greatest seasons of Florida sports history, such as the 1998 soccer team, the 1992 women’s tennis team and the 2006 basketball team.

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For now, we’ll just have to watch. This team has soared to great heights, and all it has to do is stick the landing.

Contact River Wells at rwells@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @riverhwells



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