Trinity Thomas

Trinity Thomas

Over the course of the next two weeks, the Florida gymnastics team will face two Tigers.

The more-anticipated feline showdown will be next week when LSU comes to the O’Connell Center, but first, the Gators will have to fight with the Tigers of Missouri in their cage.

On Friday night, No. 2 Florida will compete in their second meet of the 2020 season when it sets out to Columbia to take on No. 19 Missouri. The meet will commence at 7 p.m. and be televised on the SEC Network as part of their Friday Night Heights program.

UF (1-0, 1-0 SEC) is coming off its best season-opening meet in recent memory, besting Arkansas 197.35-194.40 last Friday evening. It was the largest margin of victory for Florida in a meet since January 2017 and the most points ever scored in an opener.

“It’s a great problem to have,” coach Jenny Rowland said regarding her team’s depth. “We haven’t had that problem in several years, so it really elevates the athletes.”

Sophomore Trinity Thomas was the star of the win over the Razorbacks, taking the title in bars (9.925), beam (9.975) and floor (9.975), her ninth and 10th career score of 9.975. She also earned her seventh collegiate all-around win with a score of 39.70, the third best score in the country so far this season. Following her performance, she won her fourth SEC Gymnast of the Week award.

Sophomore Nya Reed stepped up as well, equaling her career-best in vault (9.875) and floor (9.925).

“After having a great meet like that, the energy carries over into practice the next week,” sophomore Savannah Schoenherr said. “It just makes practice super fun and pushes (us) more to do better.”

This is already Missouri’s (1-2, 0-1 SEC) fourth meet of the season. In its home triangular on Jan. 4, the Tigers finished in second place, losing to Illinois but beating Southeast Missouri. Their first SEC meet was last week, when they were defeated by No. 10 Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, 196.525-195.500. In the week following the tri-meet, Missouri senior Aspen Tucker won SEC Specialist of the Week and Helen Hu won SEC Freshman of the Week. Hu scored a 9.95 to win the beams title in the loss to the Wildcats for the second-straight week.

“A lot of my favorite memories these past four years have been from traveling,” UF senior Amelia Hundley said. “But it really will be a test in a different situation and different arena, so it will challenge us.”

Last season, the Gators defeated the Tigers 197.30-196.45 in Gainesville to open the 2019 season.

“I told the team in the fall that they built a great foundation,” Rowland said. “I’m looking forward to relying on that strong foundation and just continuing to build upon that throughout the season.”

Follow Noah on Twitter @Noah_ram1 and contact him at [email protected].