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Thursday, October 06, 2022

No. 4 Florida Gymnastics survives No. 11 Missouri in a close away meet 

Gators upset a record-setting night for Missouri and extend the series record 29-1. 

<p>Gymnastics coach Jenny Rowland  praised her team’s mental fortitude Friday night.</p><p>“They continued to fight all the way through to the very last performance as it was tight all the way up until that very last dismount.”</p>

Gymnastics coach Jenny Rowland praised her team’s mental fortitude Friday night.

“They continued to fight all the way through to the very last performance as it was tight all the way up until that very last dismount.”

What will it take to beat Gator gymnastics? Missouri battled Friday night, setting a program team score record with 197.625 and had 14 individual career highs, but still fell short of Florida’s 197.775. 

Senior Trinity Thomas led the Gators to another victory on the road in her first all-around appearance of 2022, scoring 39.750 and claiming the 19th all-around win of her career. 

Thomas started the night off soaring on the bars, scoring a 9.925 before picking up a 9.900 on vault. 

After the second rotation, the Tigers trailed by a narrow .075 margin and already had eight career highs on the night. 

The Gators tackled the floor routine in rotation three, where Thomas and Leanne Wong needed to be nearly perfect to fend off the skulking Tigers. Thomas performed beautiful lines in her tumbling passes while Wong’s artistry and grace separated her from the rest — each scored 9.950 and kept the Gators in front.

Chloi Clark replaced Alyssa Baumann in the lineup to anchor for Florida on the floor. Clark had a small hop that looked to be out-of-bounds but wasn’t flagged by the judges. She nailed the landing on her double tuck in the final tumbling pass giving her a 9.825.

Wong had another big night in her home state of Missouri with family in attendance cheering her on. Coming off of her first collegiate 10 on bars last week against Arkansas, Wong posted a 9.950 Friday after sticking her double layout dismount to win her third consecutive bars title. 

Heading into the final rotation, the Gator lead had nearly eroded into nothingness, leading the Tigers by just a tenth of a point.

Missouri’s Alisa Sheremeta, Hannah McCray and Amari Celestine earned career-highs on the floor, but it wasn’t enough to topple the Gators.

Veteran Megan Skaggs took to the beam first for Florida in a high-pressure situation but didn’t flinch a bit as she stuck the aerial back full dismount setting the tone for the final rotation. 

The number one gymnast in the nation on beam this season, Thomas had another exhilarating performance leaving her teammates chanting for a 10 but was awarded a 9.975. This was Thomas’ third consecutive balance beam title. 

Leah Clapper needed a 9.850 to secure the win for Florida and after a small balance check and tiny hop scored a 9.900. 

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“They continued to fight all the way through to the very last performance as it was tight all the way up until that very last dismount,” coach Jenny Rowland said. “So really proud of the team.”

Florida heads back to Gainesville to host No. 8 LSU on Feb. 11 at Exactech Arena. 

Contact Madeline Lawson at mlawson@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @MadsLaws.

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