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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Gators gymnastics wins 12th Southeastern Conference Championship

Thomas reaches perfection twice in championship meet

Florida's gymnastics won its 12th Southeastern Conference title behind the Gators' season-high team score.

Trinity Thomas reached familiar heights and earned the title of all-around Southeastern Conference champion. Her performance helped the Gators clinch the 2023 SEC Championship. 

She completed a season gym slam — a perfect 10 on each event in a single season — after her 10.0 on uneven bars and floor to secure back-to-back SEC Championships for Florida. Thomas now has 27 perfect 10s — only one away from tying the all-time record. 

Thomas wasn’t thinking about the race to 28, she said. However, she did her best to save her energy throughout the meet so she could help the Gators to the best of her ability.

“This is exactly what we’ve been working for,” Thomas said. “The best part is we’re not done yet.”

The No. 3 Florida Gators (12-2, 6-1 SEC) competed in session two of the Southeastern Conference Championship March 18 against the No. 6 Louisiana State Tigers (8-5, 4-3 SEC), No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats (10-3, 5-2 SEC) and No. 10 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-5, 4-4 SEC). 

The Gators finished with a score of 198.425, edging out second place Alabama by 0.500. UF won three of four events and earned a meet record score in Duluth, Georgia. 

The Gators began the meet on vault. Florida sophomore Sloane Blakely tied for first in the event with a score of 9.950.

Florida junior Chloi Clark appeared on vault with a score of 9.825. She was also named to the SEC gymnastics community service team March 17.

UF finished with a total of 49.375 in the event; Alabama rose above with a total of 49.525. 

The Gators dominated on uneven bars. Thomas earned a perfect 10.0 to secure first place. Florida junior Victoria Nguyen and sophomore Leanne Wong tied for second with a score of 9.950.

Nguyen returned on uneven bars after she slipped on the vault against the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners March 3.

UF’s score of 49.700 set it ahead of Kentucky, which ended with a score of 49.600. 

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Florida continued to dominate as it moved to the third rotation — balance beam. Wong secured first place with a score of 9.975 to earn the honor of SEC Individual Champion on balance beam.

Florida secured a score of 49.675 to surpass Alabama and Missouri’s tied second-place score of 49.375. 

The Gators finished their night on the floor, and Thomas reached perfection with her second 10.0. Florida freshman Kayla DiCello finished in second place with a score of 9.950. 

UF’s score of 49.675 helped them clinch first place in the meet; LSU trailed them in the event with a score of 49.625.

Thomas earned the highest all-around score of the night with a score of 39.800. Wong finished in third place in session two with a score of 39.625. DiCello earned fifth place in the session with a score of 39.600. 

Gators Head Coach Jenny Rowland emphasized “normmentum” — UF’s word of the week. It means being normal and creating momentum at the same time, she said.

“They did a fantastic job,” Rowland said. “I think that's just going to carry them through the postseason.”

Florida now awaits the National Collegiate Athletic Association Regionals, which take place from March 29 to April 2. UF will find out its seeding March 20

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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