Trinity Thomas was named NACGC Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year in 2019. She is the fifth Gator to receive the honor and only the second freshman to do so.

 UF gymnast Trinity Thomas is getting an early start to her year.

The rising sophomore is slated to compete in the 2019 GK U.S Classic on Saturday, an Elite gymnastics event that serves as a qualifier for the USA Gymnastics National Championships. Thomas’ entry into the event is somewhat unusual: She’ll be only the fifth gymnast to compete in the GK U.S. Classic since 2010 that has also participated in the NCAA Championships during the same calendar year.

“It’s just really special to have the opportunity to do both,” Thomas said. “I’m excited to be able to pursue both of my goals.”

Thomas will be competing on the bars and the beam. The SEC Freshman of the Year received First Team and Second Team All-American honors for both events, respectively, during the 2019 season.

The U.S. Classic will be a return to Elite competition for Thomas, who put the majority of her focus on collegiate competition in 2019.

“The first step right here can be at classics, getting reintroduced to Elite again after being out for a little bit in college,” Thomas said.

The event will feature notable Elite U.S. gymnasts such as four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, who was the Senior Champion at last year’s meet.

“It’s really special to be able to compete with them, because they’re the best of the best,” Thomas said. “And to be a part of that is super cool.”

The event serves as a pathway to both the USA Gymnastics National Championships and the Olympics. Despite the lofty goals at the end of the stretch, however, Thomas is starting small.

“Ultimately, the first step is to make the U.S National Team again,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “(Thomas has) got a few new upgrades, and she’s looking forward to testing some of those out this season.”

Thomas’ freshman campaign with the Gators was nothing short of stellar, spawning SEC Freshman of the Year and NACGC Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year nods. As Thomas enters her sophomore year, Florida will only bring in a sole freshman for their 2020 class in three-time Junior Olympic Level 10 champion Payton Richards. While it will be difficult to match the success from Thomas last year, Rowland is confident in Richards’ ability.

“I can’t say (Richards) has a weakness on any given event,” Rowland said. “She’s a very strong competitor.”

The GK U.S. Classic will be broadcasted on the Olympic Channel live at 7 p.m on Saturday.

“We’ve tried our best to give (Thomas) some down time,” Rowland said. “But she really is motivated. She’s eager.”

Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].

River Wells is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida women’s tennis team. He has previously covered UF swimming and diving. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.