There’s plenty to be excited about if you are coach Jenny Rowland.
The crowd at Pete Maravich Assembly Center rose to its feet when LSU’s McKenna Kelley finish…
The No. 3 Florida gymnastics squad walked into a Pete Maravich Assembly Center that held 12,093 people and walked out with a win. It ended LSU’s 35-meet win streak at home and the Gators’ four-year losing streak to the Tigers.
Rowland’s team in completing its revenge showed that its aspirations of returning to the national championship aren’t so far-fetched.
“After the first event, they just starting building on their success,” Rowland said. “By the end, they were not gonna let anybody take it away from them, so that was really exciting to see.”
To begin, sophomore Alyssa Baumann settled nicely in the lineup after being absent from the team’s first meet against Missouri due to injury. Baumann’s floor routine earned one of the higher scores among the Gators with a 9.875, but her most impactful score was her 9.900 on the balance beam. Baumann was the last gymnast to perform for UF that night, and her score helped set the bar for LSU’s McKenna Kelley just a little bit higher for her final floor routine, a bar that proved to be too high for the Tigers.
“It was definitely a stressful situation,” Baumann said. “But all last year, I was in pressure situations, and I knew that I could do it.”
The true standout for the Gators, however, was its freshman all-arounder, Trinity Thomas. Thomas ended the night with a 39.650 and was the highest scorer on every UF event besides the balance beam. Thomas’s floor routine stood out in particular, scoring a 9.950. The score is an improvement over her floor routine against Missouri, a 9.900, and she also improved on her vault score and her beam score from the previous week.
With Thomas’ improving scores and dominating presence in the lineup, she’s expected to be an invaluable asset as the team moves along the road to the NCAA championship.
It should be mentioned amongst the positives, however, that the Tigers weren’t exactly at their best in LSU’s meet against the Gators. LSU had two 9.300 scores on the night — one from Sarah Edwards’ vault routine and one from Lexie Priessman on the floor — which is .150 lower than the lowest score in UF’s meet against Missouri, freshman Savannah Schoenherr’s 9.450 on the vault. While the lowest score in every routine is dropped, the Tigers would have benefitted from a higher overall score had the two LSU gymnasts performed better.
While there is an argument that LSU did more damage to itself than UF put in the effort to win, the improvements from an already impressive freshman in Thomas and a return to form for one of the team’s stars last season in Baumann proved that the victory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was far from a mere fluke.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].