No. 2 Gator gymnasts win at No. 19 Missouri

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Sophomore Nya Reed matched her collegiate-best of 9.875 again to claim her second consecutive vault win [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/file]

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The No. 2 Florida gymnastics team opened 2020 road action with a 196.85-195.60 win Friday at No. 19 Missouri.

“They fought hard, but we were too conservative from the get-go,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “That is something we need to improve. First road meet and lessons were learned. It is something we can work on.

“Starting off on bars is an easy event to get tight on. But bars is one of this team’s strongest events. We need to start out on a great note and keep the energy going throughout the competition.”

Anticipation of severe winter weather led to the University of Missouri (1-3, 0-2 SEC) announcing campus closure for Friday. The icy rains likely led to the decision for many fans to tune in for SEC Network’s Friday Night Heights coverage of the UF-MU contest.

Junior Megan Skaggs led the Gators on their opening event with an uneven bars mark of 9.875, which placed second. Freshman Payton Richards opened Florida’s bars set with a collegiate best 9.85 to tie for third. The evening’s bars title was claimed by Missouri freshman Helen Hu at 9.95.

Sophomore Nya Reed matched her collegiate-best of 9.875 again to claim her second consecutive vault win. Richards took second on the event at 9.775.

Florida  (2-0, 2-0) raised its season-high floor exercise total to 49.475 Friday. The three Gators with marks of 9.90 or better swept the floor awards. Trinity Thomas won the event for the second consecutive week (9.95), while Alyssa Baumann (9.925) and Rachel Gowey (9.90) posted season-highs to claim second and third, respectively. Gowey’s 9.90 equals her collegiate-best set last season.

Thomas claimed her second-straight balance beam title Friday with her mark of 9.925. Gowey shared second at 9.90 with MU’s Hu.

Florida next takes on No. 7 LSU at 7:15 p.m. Friday at the O’Connell Center. The meet will air on ESPN2.

“We are going to keep trying to improve every day,” Rowland said. “That is our goal each day is to see where we can get better – mentally, in preparation, execution. We will learn a lot of lessons coming away from this competition. Everybody can do their gymnastics. Just not super sharp tonight. We will continue to grind and work on that in training.”

Notes: Trinity Thomas raised her career event titles total to 32 tonight with wins on beam (9.925) and floor (9.95). … Nya Reed opens 2020 by winning vault in both meets. She equaled her collegiate-best of 9.875 in both outings. Four marks tonight equaled or set collegiate bests: Rachel Gowey – 9.90 (floor), Nya Reed – 9.875 (vault) and Payton Richards – 9.85 (bars), beam (9.85)