Trinity Thomas

It had to have felt like déjà vu for Trinity Thomas

The Florida sophomore, who has never scored a 10 in her career, scored a 9.975 during her beam rotation after one judge gave her a 9.950.

Now, after her floor rotation, everyone in the crowd of 7,531 thought she had finally gotten her elusive 10.

But once again, she was denied it by one judge, scoring her second 9.975 and giving her her 10th career 9.975.

In the end though, it didn’t matter as No. 3 Florida cruised to a season-opening 197.35-194.4 victory over No. 19 Arkansas on Friday night at the O’Connell Center. This was UF’s largest regular-season win since beating UNC early in the 2017 season.

“I have felt ready for months now, and I was just so excited to finally get back out there in the O’Dome,” Thomas said.

The Gators (1-0) began the night on the vault, while the Razorbacks (0-1) headed to the uneven bars.

The vault ended up being the worst rotation for Florida, finishing with a score of 49.125. Junior Alyssa Baumann stumbled during her routine and her score (9.175) was dropped. Sophomore Nya Reed was the star of the vault, ending with a 9.875.

The good news for the Gators was that Arkansas also started slow on the bars. Only one gymnast, Kailey Gillings, for the Razorbacks scored above a 9.825. This was Arkansas’s first meet under former Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber, who became coach after a disappointing 1-7 season in 2019 that saw the Hogs finish eighth in the SEC.

The two teams switched places and Florida headed to the uneven bars. Payton Richards led UF in this rotation. The freshman was given a lot of responsibility in her first meet in the orange and blue. She played in three of the four rotations and anchored UF in the vault. Richards scored above a 9.8 in all three rotations, with a 9.85 in vault being her best.

“I didn’t think about it too much,” Richards said concerning her big role. “I knew that they would set me up very well before I anchored.”

The best performance for the team came on the beams. Every score for the Gators was above a 9.825, with three scores over a 9.9. This was led by Thomas’ near-perfect score. Arkansas’ best showing came during the same rotation when it was on the floor. However, Florida still had a comfortable lead heading into the final rotation.

Florida’s lead grew in the final rotation as both Thomas and Reed got top scores once again, Thomas’ second 9.975 and a 9.925 for Reed. The beam was the Razorbacks’ worst presentation of the night, scoring a 48.25. Three Hogs scored below a 9.625.

Overall, Coach Jenny Rowland was satisfied with her team’s performance after last season’s disappointing finish.

“Obviously left a lot of things out there tonight,” Rowland said. “But that is to be expected and couldn’t have asked for anything more tonight.”

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