Gators gymnastics clinched a berth to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Semifinals after finishing second to California in the Regional Final.
Trinity Thomas was absent from the lineup after her lower right-leg injury Friday. She cheered on her teammates from the sidelines with a boot on her foot.
The No. 2 Florida Gators (22-2, 6-1 SEC) competed in the NCAA Pittsburgh Regional Final Round Friday against the No. 7 California Golden Bears (17-2-2, 4-1-2 PAC-12), the No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (24-4, 8-1 Big 10) and the No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils (7-6, 4-3 PAC-12).
The Gators finished with a score of 197.800, falling to second place behind California, which achieved a score of 198.075. UF won one of four events in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Gators began the meet on uneven bars. Florida sophomore Leanne Wong earned first place with a score of 9.975. UF freshman Kayla DiCello grabbed second place with a 9.950, tying with Cal sophomore Madelyn Williams and Arizona State junior Sarah Clark.
Florida finished with a total of 49.575; California and Michigan State followed closely with a total of 49.525.
The Gators carried their momentum into the beam. Wong earned another first-place finish with a score of 9.975. DiCello followed closely behind with a 9.950. Florida senior Payton Richards earned a season-best 9.90-point score.
UF’s score of 49.600 kept it closely behind the Golden Bears’ score of 49.650.
Florida then moved to the third rotation, floor. Wong secured second place with a score of 9.925. Richards and DiCello fell closely behind with a 9.900.
UF finished with a total of 49.325 in the event; California led with a total of 49.625.
The Gators persevered and finished their night on vault. Richards tied for first place with Sun Devils junior Anaya Smith, who earned a score of 9.950. Wong came close with a 9.900.
Florida trailed with a total of 49.300; Arizona State soared with a total of 49.450.
Wong earned the highest all-around score of the night with a score of 39.775. DiCello trailed behind with an all-around score of 39.675. Richards and Blakely competed in all four events as well.
The Gators’ next meet will be the NCAA Semifinals. The meet will take place April 13 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, and be streamed on ESPN+.
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.