Another 10 for Thomas; No. 2 Florida beats No. 17 Auburn

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Florida gymnast Trinity Thomas performs on the beam Friday against LSU at Exactech Arena. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]
Special to The Sun
AUBURN, Ala. – It’s wasn’t just love in the air for this Valentine’s Day competition. It also included a perfect 10.0 by Trinity Thomas and a big win as No. 2 Florida gymnastics took a 197.875 – 194.75 win Friday at No. 17 Auburn.
“This team got better tonight,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “We had several lineup changes and some new people in. It was the first time I’ve really seen a strong start collectively from the bars team. They did a great job setting the tone and getting the momentum going. The rest of the team did a great job of continuing that momentum through. Saw a lot of aggressive performances tonight, which really just made for a great evening.”

This is the second time Florida posted a 197.875 this season. Along with Florida’s 198.375 on Jan. 24 and its 197.80 on Jan. 31, the Gators own four of the nation’s top 10 totals this season.

Another 10.0 on balance beam highlighted an evening of spectacular performances by Thomas. Along with her beam win, Thomas posted marks of 9.95 to win uneven bars and floor exercise plus equaled her collegiate best of 39.775 to claim her fifth 2020 all-around win.

“This one felt so good,” Thomas said. “I landed that beam dismount and wow! That was probably one of the best routines I’ve done in competition. That was really exciting.

“I want to keep pushing. I’m not done yet and want to do so much more. I’m excited about what comes next.”

Freshman Payton Richards set her collegiate vault best of 9.95 to complete Florida’s event titles sweep. It was her second vault win of the last three meets. Richards also took second in all-around after matching her career high of 39.50.

Several strong scores helped boost the Gators’ team total Friday. Sophomore Savannah Schoenherr anchored the bars lineup with a 9.90. Both senior Amelia Hundley and sophomore Sydney Johnson-Scharpf turned in a 9.90 on floor. Florida finished the meet on beam, with senior Rachel Gowery earning a 9.95 and junior Alyssa Baumann a 9.925.

Two Gators equaled their collegiate bests of 9.875 Friday – senior Sierra Alexander (vault) and sophomore Leah Clapper (beam).

With her 10.0 on beam Friday, Thomas now has three perfect marks in 2020.

10.0        Bars        Jan. 24, 2020
10.0        Beam     Feb. 7, 2020
10.0        Beam     Feb. 14, 2020

She is one of two gymnasts in the nation with a perfect mark in two different events this season. Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols has 10.0s on vault and bars.

Of the four Gator gymnasts to earn a 10.0 on beam, Thomas joins Gator Great Bridget Sloan as the only two to earn multiple beam perfect marks. Thomas is the first to earn a beam 10.0 in consecutive meets.

Up next: It’s another top-10 match-up when No. 6 Alabama visits for the 14th edition of Gators Link to Pink on Feb. 21. The teams put aside their school colors to wear pink to show their support for the fight against breast cancer.