Roundup: No. 2 Florida grabs first win in Tuscaloosa in 40 years

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Trinity Thomas sticks the landing as the Florida Gators gymnastics team competed last week. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun/File]

Special to The Sun

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – It’s been 40 years since the Florida Gators gymnastics team won a dual meet at the University of Alabama. Friday night, No. 2 Florida became only the second Gator team – and first since 1979 – to claim a dual meet win in Tuscaloosa.

The Gators took the rare win with a 197.325 -196.475 decision over the Tide in front of 12,828 at the Coleman Coliseum.

“This team just came in clutch tonight,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “Not our best performances on certain events, certain routines but overall this team never gave up through the entire competition.

“They fought with a lot of heart and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

* The Gators made 16 consecutive dual meet visits to Tuscaloosa without a win. The Gators last registered a win in Coleman Coliseum when they claimed the 1985 Southeastern Conference title.

* Friday was the 56th consecutive meeting (dating back to the 2002 NCAA Championships) that both Florida and Alabama ranked in the top 10.

* Alabama leads Florida 29-25-2 in that span since 2002, but since 2011, Florida owns a slight 14-12-1 edge. This was the first time in the last 17 meetings that the visiting team took the win.

Some problems with handstands and steps on landings resulted in Florida’s lowest uneven bars total of the season (49.175). Junior Amelia Hundley’s runner-up mark of 9.875 led the Gators.

Florida posted its second-highest vault total of the season (49.30) to take a 0.125 led at the meet’s midpoint. Freshman Trinity Thomas claimed her first vault title by equaling her collegiate best of 9.90 for the second consecutive week. Sophomore Alyssa Baumann made her first 2019 vault lineup appearance Friday, receiving a collegiate-best 9.875 for her Yurchenko one and a half. She tied for second with Alabama’s Ariana Guerra and Abby Armbrecht.

Floor was red-hot for the Gators, equaling the second-highest total for the event in program history (49.725). Four Gators set or equaled collegiate floor bests Friday – Nya Reed (9.925), Alicia Boren (9.975), Thomas (9.975) and Baumann (9.95).

Florida closed the meet on beam, using four marks of 9.875 or better to tally a 49.125. Thomas and sophomore Megan Skaggs shared second on the event at 9.90.

Thomas took her second consecutive all-around win (39.525) and Boren was runner-up (39.20). Alabama’s Lexi Graber took the beam win (9.925) and Ariana Guerra topped the bars standings (9.90).

Softball: At Tempe, Ariz., No. 4 Florida improved to 8-0 with a 2-1 win over Illinois State and 7-2 over No. 14 Arizona State in the Littlewood Classic.

The Gators scored its runs in the second inning when Sophia Reynoso was hit by pitch with the bases load to drive in Jordan Roberts, who had doubled, and Hannah Sipos’ RBI groundout.

UF pitchers Natalie Lugo (2-0) and Kelly Barnhill, who picked up her third save, controlled the game over Illinois State (0-6).

Barnhill (5-0) was the winner of the late game over ASU (4-2) and received run support from Amanda Lorenz, who hit two home runs to drive in three runs, and a Hannah Adams, who also homered.

Men’s golf: Florida is set to host the 42nd Florida Gators Invitational this weekend at Mark Bostick Golf Course. The Gators look to win their home tournament for the first time since 2011. Last year, Florida finished second with four top 25 individual finishes.

The tourney is 54-hole stroke play where teams will play three rounds over two days. The first 36 holes will be played Saturday with an 8 a.m. shotgun start and the final 18 holes will be played Sunday with tee times beginning at 8 a.m.

The Gators’ lineup is Gordon Neale, John Axelsen, Eugene Hong, Chris Nido and Manny Girona, with Ryan Celano, Blake Dyer, Aden Ye and Robby Eisch also competing.

Joining Florida in the field are Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville, Liberty, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Florida, Princeton, Southern Illinois, UCF, USF, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.

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