Statement win for UF gymnastics, as Thomas leads way with a 10 on bars

Florida gymnast Trinity Thomas performs on the bars where she scored a Perfect 10 during Friday's meet against LSU at Exactech Arena. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Trinity Thomas knew it was a good routine. 

Then she saw her teammates sprinting in her direction with the speed of a pack of cheetahs.

“My teammates were running so fast,” said the sophomore. “So I was, like, ‘Maybe it was REALLY good.’ ”

Thomas recorded her first ever 10 and it came on the bars. It was the spark that ignited the second-ranked Gators against rival LSU.

Florida won 198.375-197.775, answering every high score that No.8 LSU threw at UF.

Florida (3-0) ended up with the highest score in the nation this season and the third highest score in school history. 

“You don’t really pay attention to the other team’s scores, but sometimes you look up and you could see how close it is,” said junior Alyssa Bowman. “And we know how good LSU is.”

 Florida trailed after one rotation, but pulled away in the second half of the meet. 

A crowd of 9,332 — the third highest for gymnastics since the Exactech Arena was remodeled — was bouncing off the walls as Florida put up score after score and ended up winning comfortably against the Tigers. 

 “This crowd really brought it,” said Thomas, a sophomore. “When they were saying my name for each event it was like the O-Dome was shaking.”

Thomas was the all-around winner at 39.775 and her worst score in the four rotations was a 9.9.

 She had recorded 10 scores of 9.975 in various events previously and would get another one on the floor Friday night. But on the bars, it was perfection for the first time.

 Thomas became the 14th Florida gymnast to record a 10 and it was the 42nd score of 10 in UF history. But she had plenty of help as the Gators never had to count a score lower than 9.875 after they fell behind on the vault.

“I’m incredibly proud of them,” said Florida coach Jenny Rowland. “It was a cat fight slash Gator fight. No one was letting down.

“You could feel it building all week. We did a really good job of working with intent and purpose much better than we did a year ago.”

As well as Florida performed, the Tigers also had a 10 from Kiya Johnson on beam and four other scores of 9.95 or better in different events.

But on the floor, LSU’s Sarah Edwards suffered a left leg injury after a spill and could not finish her performance. The Tigers (3-1) had to count a 9.725 in the event and Florida expanded its lead in the meet with all of its counted scores being at least 9.9.

Edwards was carried off the floor after being attended to and UF’s Baumann had to wait to do her beam routine.

“I was glad it was Alyssa who had to wait,” said Rowland, “because I knew she could handle it.”

Baumann responded to the delay with a 9.975 score.

Florida also had lone freshman Payton Richards compete in the all-around for the first time in her young career and she finished with all four scores of at least 9.825 or better.