A sold-out crowd inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center saw double when glancing upon the center-hung jumbotron heading to the final rotation. Florida and Louisiana State were in a dead heat at 148.350.
Seniors Trinity Thomas and Nya Reed knew the pressure was on.
“Yes,” they both said when asked if they knew the score was tied as the Gators rotated to the floor.
Florida brought its best when it was needed most. “I wasn’t worried,” Thomas said.
A 49.800 floor rotation score, including a perfect-10 from Reed and a 9.975 from Thomas, is the second-highest team score on the floor in program history.
UF defeated LSU 198.150-197.852 Friday night in a top-five matchup.
“The Gators are pretty good,” said head coach Jenny Rowland.
Florida seems to have a knack for breaking records. The Gators earned the third-highest team total in the nation this year adding to the aforementioned school record.
Freshman Leanne Wong earned her second all-around title after having a tremendous night, starting with a career-high 9.900 on vault.
The Gators’ third consecutive home meet with a SEC rival was a hot ticket and celebrated Florida Women’s Athletics 50th Anniversary.
After the second rotation, Florida led the Tigers by only a hundredth of a point before facing the beam.
Wong was captivating on the beam and tied her career-high with a 9.925. Senior Leah Clapper closed out the event, sticking her landing and winning the apparatus with a 9.950. The drama hit its peak as the night neared an end. Six performances from each team remained as the meet’s results hung in the balance.
“I thought it made it just a little bit more fun, to be honest,” Thomas said.
Graduate student Megan Skaggs took to the floor first for the Gators and put up a 9.900, setting the tone for her teammates.
“I actually told [Skaggs] after floor how grateful this team is to have her here with us for another year,” Rowland said.
Wong went on to record another career-high on the night, a 9.975 on floor.
Reed posted her second perfect 10 on floor this year after attacking her tumbling passes with tremendous power and height. She told UF assistant coach Adrian Burde it wouldn’t be her last.
“I can't get complacent, I want another one,” Reed said. “I also [told Burde] I want to be a national champion on floor as well.”
The Tigers didn’t go down without a fight and kept it close until the very end. Freshman Aleah Finnegan earned a career-high 9.900 on floor while freshman KJ Johnson tied her career-high with a 9.950.
Florida nearly went off course early in the evening, after an off-night from freshman Sloane Blakely led to her first three scores being dropped. The Frisco, Texas, native closed out on floor for the Gators, but her run served as a victory lap as the win was already secured.
“Sloane is very determined,” Reed said. “She is a fighter.”
Blakely had fun on the floor and put on a show that scored her a career-high 9.950. She left on a high note with something to build off of as she looks forward to the next meet.
“I believe my athletes when they say ‘I got this,’” Rowland said of Blakely's confidence before her floor routine.
Up next for the Gators is a road trip to Lexington, Kentucky, Feb. 18 to take on another elite SEC opponent, No.10 Kentucky. The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m. and will broadcast to the SEC Network.
Contact Madeline Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MadsLaws.