The Florida gymnastics team is ranked No. 3 in the nation, and last Friday night, it showed why.
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The team defeated the No. 11 Missouri Tigers 197.300-196.450, an opponent that bested it last year. It was a showing that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.
That was without last year’s superstar in Alyssa Baumann or rotation regular Jazmyn Foberg.
Friday’s event at the O’Connell Center presented a few questions surrounding their new squad in 2019 and, perhaps, answered a question about one of the team’s returning members.
As the Gators headed into the O’Connell Center for the team’s first meet — a meet that just under 8,500 fans attended — their unusually large freshman class of six gymnasts got its first taste of competition at the NCAA level, and it handled the bright lights well.
Freshman Trinity Thomas served as one of the Gators’ three all-arounders for the night, and she performed admirably in the role. She posted a relatively lower score of 9.775 on the vault, but she redeemed herself with a 9.950 on the uneven bars and a 9.900 on her floor routine.
There were other freshmen, though, who raised some concern. Savannah Schoenherr stumbled significantly on her landing during her vault routine, and she received a 9.450 in response. There wasn’t a score in any other event the entire night that dipped below a 9.725.
While four other Gators gymnasts landing below the 9.8 mark on vault didn’t help their score, Schoenherr’s 9.450 and other disappointing scores allowed Missouri to hold the lead after one rotation Friday night.
The other freshmen performances showed they still need some work. While Nya Reed’s stellar floor routine matched senior Alicia Boren’s for a night-best 9.925, freshman Sydney Johnson-Scharpf was an obvious outlier in that same event with a 9.750.
Sophomore Alyssa Baumann, who has earned two All-America honors and an All-SEC nod among other accolades last season, was out of the lineup for the season opener after she reportedly fell off the uneven bars in practice. According to coach Jenny Rowland, her absence led to some last-minute lineup changes before the meet.
“It changed (the lineup) on two or three events, for sure,” Rowland said. “It gave an opportunity for some new freshmen to step up and step in, and they gained a lot of great experience tonight.”
After the meet, Rowland explained that Baumann’s sternum is sore, but her admittance to Shands Hospital was merely precautionary and her absence could be short lived.
“Everything is clear,” Rowland said after the meet. “You saw her tonight, she’s moving around… it’s really gonna be a little bit of time before she’s back in no time. I know she’s itching to get back in the lineups.”
The Gators showed the team’s depth on Friday with their victory over Mizzou, and should Baumann return to rotations sooner than later, she will greatly help a team that is already succeeding.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].