Gators seek individual NCAA gymnastics titles

Alyssa Baumann performs her floor exercise as the Florida Gators gymnastics team takes on Auburn at the Stephen C. O'Connell center at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Friday February 8, 2019. Gators won 197.850 to 196.700 [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

By Jim Harvin, Correspondent

The Florida gymnastics team missed out on competing for an NCAA title, but four UF gymnasts have made the trip to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, to compete for a chance to be an individual national champion tonight.

Senior Alicia Boren (all-around), sophomore Alyssa Baumann (balance beam), and freshmen Trinity Thomas (uneven bars & floor exercise) and Savannah Schoenherr (vault) will all be in action.

While each will be competing individually, their thoughts will be with their Gator teammates, who will be missing from the competition for the first time since 2000.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity for these four Gators to go out and represent the University of Florida and their team as individuals and, most importantly, as a Gator,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “They’ve been working really hard in the gym these last couple of weeks, and the team has been behind them, supporting them, which has been great.”

Boren, who will be competing alongside Oregon State, has been an all-around star for UF throughout her career.

“It’s definitely a new experience and it’s a weird experience to say the least,” Boren said. “I’m going to miss having my teammates there, but I still have a job to do for myself, my team and the Gators. I’m definitely going in and do what I’ve been practicing.”

The other three Gators will all be competing alongside SEC counterpart Georgia.

“It’s definitely a different approach,” said Baumann, whose sister is a freshman on the Georgia squad.

“It’s not what we expected, but we’re still going to go in there and try to bring home some hardware back for the rest of the team. I know it’s going to be a little bit different because we won’t have the whole team to bring up our energy.”

Thomas, who will be in two events, is the fifth Gator to claim the NACGC Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year award and was also named the SEC Freshman of the Year. Thomas and former UF great Ashanee Dickerson (2010) are the only two individuals to earn the NACGC award as freshmen.

“Obviously it wasn’t the outcome we were looking for and it’s difficult, but sometimes things don’t go your way,” Thomas said. “The four of us came back here and have worked hard to be able to go back and do it for the rest of the team. I’m really excited to focus on these two events and go out there and show them what I can do.”

Freshman Savannah Schoenherr is equally pumped.

“We were kind of expecting to make it as a team and obviously really wanted that, but not everything works out,” Schoenherr said. “This is kind of another step in the road, and we’re taking it as fueling our fire for next season.”

Rowland likes the chances for her quartet.

“Really, they have a spectacular opportunity to do very well in their events,” she said. “I think the rotations that they’re in bode well for them, and as long as they take full advantage of that opportunity, I believe that they are going to have some great success.”

1 p.m. ESPN2 — NCAA Championship: first sessions of team semifinals and individual events, Fort Worth, Texas

7 p.m. ESPNU — NCAA Championship: second sessions of team semifinals and individual events, Fort Worth, Texas

7:30 p.m. ESPN2 — NCAA Championship: second sessions of team semifinals and individual events, Fort Worth, Texas

Note: Florida’s Adrian Burde and Owen Field were named the NACGC Southeast Region Assistant Coaches of the Year, while UF’s Kim Green was honored as the NACGC Southeast Region Administrator of the Year.