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Gators break season-opening score for fifth year in a row

Florida’s score of 197.750 earned it a 2.825-point victory

<p>Florida graduate student Trinity Thomas dismounts the bars at the end of her routine in a quad meet against the West Virginia Mountaineers, Ball State Cardinals and the Lindenwood Lions Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. </p>

Florida graduate student Trinity Thomas dismounts the bars at the end of her routine in a quad meet against the West Virginia Mountaineers, Ball State Cardinals and the Lindenwood Lions Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

Another season, another perfect 10 for Florida graduate student Trinity Thomas. 

She led the way in every event she competed in and put on a show for the 8,502 fans in attendance. However, every Gator brought their best as the Florida Gators won all four events Friday night.

“Celebrating the present, that’s what we’re focusing on today,” Florida head coach Jenny Rowland said.

Florida gymnastics had its first meet of the season in Gainesville in a quad meet against the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Ball State Cardinals and the Lindenwood Lions.

The Gators were dominant in their opening meet, finishing the night with a 197.750. They earned their highest score in a season opener in Florida program history for the fifth season in a row. 

West Virginia’s 194.925 earned it second place. Ball State’s score of 194.100 gave it third place. Lindenwood finished in fourth with a 193.125.

Florida’s 2023 season started at the vault, where it earned a 49.300 — the highest rotation 1 score and the highest score on the vault.

Thomas picked up right where she left off last season, scoring a team-high 9.925 on the vault. Trailing right behind her were graduate student Rachel Baumann, 9.900, sophomore Leanne Wong, 9.850, and sophomore Bri Edwards, 9.850.

Ball State earned the next-best score with a 49.000. West Virginia managed a 48.725, and Lindenwood totaled 48.400.

In rotation 2, the Gators headed to the uneven bars and followed up their impressive vault showing with an even better score. They earned a 49.625 to bring their total to 98.925 halfway through the meet.

Thomas and Wong led the event for the Gators, each earning a 9.950. Only one Florida gymnast earned less than a 9.900 on the uneven bars.

The Mountaineer’s score of 48.500 was good for second place on the bars. Ball State and Lindenwood trailed behind with scores of 48.300 and 47.475, respectively.

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The Gators then took a turn on the balance beam in rotation 3. They kept rolling and earned a 49.425 on the event. Three quarters of the way through the meet, Florida was sitting at a total of 148.350.

Thomas continued her dominance and scored the first perfect 10 of the year and her fourth such score on the beam. She is now tied for sixth with 21 collegiate 10’s. Thomas’ night ended here, and she didn’t perform a floor routine.

“I strive for it every time,” she said, “even in the gym.”

Lindenwood had the second-best score on the beam with a 48.525. West Virginia and Ball State trailed with scores of 48.500 and 47.800.

Florida capped off the meet with its floor routines. It finished the event with a 49.400, good enough to bring its total to 197.750.

The Mountaineers' 49.200, the Cardinals’ 49.000 and the Lions’ 48.725 followed up the Gators’ leading score.

Thomas earned the highest scores in the vault, uneven bars and balance beam. Baumann earned the highest floor routine score, 9.925. 

Freshman Kayla Dicello earned the highest all-around score, 39.475. She broke the UF record for a Gator making their all-around debut.

“I was pretty nervous,” Dicello said. “It was more of the good nerves, not the bad nerves.”

Thomas, Dicello and the rest of the Gators will have the opportunity to keep rolling when they take on the Auburn Tigers at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Contact Kyle Bumpers at Follow him on Twitter @BumpersKyle.

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Kyle Bumpers

Kyle Bumpers is a fourth-year journalism major and the sports editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he cries about Russell Wilson and writes an outrageous amount of movie reviews on Letterboxd.

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