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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

No. 6 Gators gymnastics edges No. 13 Arkansas in Friday night thriller

Florida defeated the Razorbacks 197.775-196.050 in the team’s Annual Link to Pink meet

Junior Leanne Wong competes in her uneven bars routine in the Gators gymnastics Annual Link to Pink meet on Friday, February 9, 2023.
Junior Leanne Wong competes in her uneven bars routine in the Gators gymnastics Annual Link to Pink meet on Friday, February 9, 2023.

Florida junior Leanne Wong was last in every apparatus Friday evening. And in the final moments of each rotation, she kept the crowd energized. In her bar routine, Wong earned a perfect 10 which launched the crowd into a frenzy in light of the other seamless performances. 

“I had a pretty clean routine, and I was happy to get the 10,” Wong said. “Not every 10 is the same and sometimes you will have a little mistake, but as long as you cover it up and keep going with your routine you never know what can happen.” 

As the last gymnast to compete in each routine, she continued to keep her teammates afloat and cheered them on with a big smile and open arms. 

The No. 6 Florida Gators (6-1, 3-1 SEC) defeated the No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks (2-1-2, 2-1-2 SEC) 197.775-196.050 Friday night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in the Annual Link to Pink meet in support for the fight against breast cancer. 

“There is a lot more to life than just gymnastics, and that was something we talked about this week,” Florida head coach Jenny Rowland said “We are fighting for the survivors, celebrating for those survivors and fighting for those alongside them in the really tough battle.” 

UF freshman Skylar Draser opened for the Gators on vault with a graceful execution that earned her a 9.875 and left her teammates ecstatic with cheers. Junior Sloane Blakely breezed through her routine and earned a 9.70 as her landing stuck uneasily. 

Gators freshman Anya Pilgrim rocked her routine, scoring a 9.900, just shy of a perfect 10. She placed third among her teammates in the apparatus. Wong kept the momentum going as she shined on vault and earned a 9.925 to finish the apparatus. 

Blakely led the uneven parallel bars with a graceful bar performance that earned her a 9.825. Senior Victoria Nguyen struggled with her bar routine as she fell on her first go. However, she got back up and was able to preserve a 9.300. 

Pilgrim dazzled in her bar routine, earning a 9.95 to clinch the top slot in the uneven parallel bars apparatus. Wong had the O’Dome on its feet with her seamless bar routine that earned her a perfect 10, placing her first ahead of Pilgrim on the leaderboard.

Draser opened for Florida on the balance beam and kept her balance composed with her strategic performance, earning her a 9.875. Blakely ran through her routine elegantly, striking an almost perfectly balanced landing that scored her a 9.825. 

Pilgrim’s athleticism continued to shine in her beam routine as she struck a graceful landing to earn a 9.900. Lazzari’s landing didn’t stick easily but she glistened in her routine, flipping on the beam while keeping her balance aligned with a 9.775 score. 

Nguyen executed her performance as she slowly ran through her routine to keep her balance steady. Her teammates ran up to her and hugged her after she struck a seamless landing to notch the top slot with a 9.925. 

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With all eyes gravitating towards Wong, she breezed through her routine and cultivated her landing perfectly. She tied with Nguyen when she earned a 9.925. 

UF sophomore Lori Brubach dazzled in her floor routine, opening for the Gators. Her routine was executed smoothly which allowed her to earn a 9.900 and second place on the leaderboard behind Arkansas redshirt sophomore Franki Price. 

Nguyen glistened in her floor routine, moving the crowd with her classical piano performance.  She earned a 9.800, and UF junior Morgan Hurd had the crowd in awe of her routine as she earned a 9.850. 

Pilgrim sparkled in her routine to earn a 9.850, sticking two perfect landings and bouncing high into the air to give the crowd a flash of excitement. Wong once again strutted in her routine to earn a 9.875 to help Florida win the meet. 

The Gators will next compete on the road on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. against Missouri, Illinois and Lindenwood in a tri-meet in St. Charles, Missouri. The meet will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr at Follow her on X @abrittonharr 

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Alyssa Britton-Harr

Alyssa Britton-Harr is a second-year journalism major and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spending time with her friends. 

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