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Sunday, March 03, 2024

DiCello leads Florida to win against No. 11 Missouri

DiCello scores first 10.0 of collegiate career

Florida freshman Kayla Dicello performs her floor routine in the Gators' win against the Missouri Tigers Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.
Florida freshman Kayla Dicello performs her floor routine in the Gators' win against the Missouri Tigers Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.

Freshman Kayla DiCello reached perfection for the first time in her collegiate career against the No. 11 Missouri Tigers Friday.

She earned her first ten when she delivered a perfect bars routine to help lift the Gators to victory.

“I always take a deep breath,” DiCello said. “I told myself to be normal and to trust myself.”

The No. 3 Florida Gators (8-0, 5-0 SEC) competed at home against Missouri (4-3, 1-3 SEC) for the Gators’ Link to Pink event. Florida finished with a season-high score of 198.350 to defeat Missouri, which finished with a score of 196.625.

UF’s 198.350 is now the second-highest score in the country this season.

The Gators won all four events and put on a show for the sold-out Stephen C. O’Connell Center. This is Florida’s fourth sold-out crowd of the season — 9,691 people were in attendance. 

DiCello received her third Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honor prior to the meet. She earned her first collegiate 10.0 in the uneven bars. Her standout performance continued as she scored more than a 9.900 in vault and beam, and a 9.875 on floor. 

The freshman finished with an all-around score of 39.750, her new collegiate best. DiCello’s all-around score gave her the highest freshman score in the nation. 

Florida began by dominating the vault. DiCello and graduate student Trinity Thomas finished with back-to-back 9.900 scores. Missouri’s Jocelyn Moore placed first with a score of 9.925 on vault.

UF finished the event with a 49.350; the Tigers ended with a 49.050.

The Gators carried their momentum heading into the second rotation: uneven bars. DiCello scored a 10.0; Thomas and sophomore Leanne Wong followed closely behind with 9.950s.

UF excelled in the event with a 49.675, while the Tigers earned a 49.225.

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Florida continued its stellar performance as it moved to the balance beam in the third rotation. Thomas finished with a 10.0. DiCello and Wong trailed with scores of 9.975 and 9.900, respectively.

UF shined with a 49.600, and the Tigers ended with a 49.150.

The Gators finished the night with their floor routines and secured a three-way tie for the event’s highest score. Wong, Thomas and sophomore Sloane Blakely all scored 9.975s. 

Florida’s 49.725 gave it its fourth event win; the Tigers trailed with a 49.200.

Thomas had a standout performance against the Tigers. She scored a perfect 10.0 in beam and more than a 9.900 in every other event. 

She finished with an all-around score of 39.825, tying the nation’s season high. Thomas holds the UF all-around wins record with 28 meet-high scores, one more than former Gator Bridget Sloan.

“[Bridget Sloan]’s incredible,” Thomas said. “She left quite the legacy. To be amongst the names of that, it is quite special.”

Florida’s next meet will be against the No. 9 Louisiana State Tigers. The teams will face off at 9 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Maravich Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The match will be broadcast on ESPN 2. 

Contact Jori Rzepecki at jrzepecki@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @jorirzepecki.

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Jori Rzepecki

Jori Rzepecki is a first-year journalism major and the Gymnastics reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys binge-watching television shows and reading books.


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