Graduate student Trinity Thomas stepped off the mat midway through her floor routine March 31. She pointed at her lower right leg as she walked off the floor and headed to the training room.
Despite Thomas’ devastating injury, the Gators prevailed and moved on to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship. Florida advanced forward in their region but settled for second place — behind only the California Golden Bears — in its first meet without Thomas.
Gators Gymnastics confirmed Thomas sustained a lower right-leg injury and said she was day to day as of March 31.
Thomas’ injury occurred in the second rotation, leaving a notable gap through the vault and bars rotations. Florida head coach Jenny Rowland was proud of her team following Thomas’ injury.
“I think the Gators did a great job,” Rowland said. “There was a little adversity tonight. However, I told them they handled it very gracefully.”
Freshman Kayla DiCello became one of Florida’s biggest contributors in Thomas’ absence.
The UF freshman reached perfection for the second time in her collegiate career in the NCAA Pittsburgh Regionals Friday. She was given a 10.0 after she delivered a flawless bars routine. The score made her the only freshman in the nation with multiple 10s — both coming on the uneven bars.
Her perfect 10 added to her stellar performance in round two of the regionals. DiCello posted an all-around score of 39.800 — the highest all-around total by a freshman in the country this year.
For inspiration, DiCello wrote four phrases on her arm: “Be You,” “Trust,” “Normal” and “Goldfish.” DiCello took up the mentality of a goldfish during her performance at the Southeastern Conference Championships, she said.
“At SEC, I was warming up my front double full,” DiCello said. “Jenny told me to be a goldfish as their memory is 10 seconds. Just forget about that one and move on to the next.”
The Gators faced some difficulties in the final round of the NCAA Pittsburgh Regionals April 2.
Senior Payton Richards stepped in for the bars and beam with Thomas out of the lineup.
Richards had the opportunity to compete in all four events; she received a score of 39.575. She secured a season-best 9.90-point score on the beam. Her 9.950-point performance on vault secured first place in the event.
Junior Victoria Nguyen was originally set to fill in for vault in round three. After sophomore Sloane Blakely fell earlier in the rotation, sophomore Bri Edwards replaced Nguyen. She earned a score of 9.750 to secure Florida’s spot in the semifinals.
Thomas’ absence was felt throughout the team’s journey in the postseason. As her condition is day to day, Thomas could return for the NCAA Semifinals.
The Gators will be competing in the NCAA Semifinals in Fort Worth, Texas, April 13. The meet will be streamed on ESPN2.
Contact Jori Rzepecki at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jorirzepecki.
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.