No. 1 Sooners edge past No. 2 Gators

Florida gymnast Alyssa Baumann competes on the beam. Baumann shared the balance beam title at 9.975 with OU junior and defending NCAA all-around champion Maggie Nichols. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun/File]

Special to The Sun

NORMAN, OKLA. — After a back-and-forth battle through the first three events Friday, top-ranked Oklahoma produced a program-best score on the floor exercise to clinch the win over No. 2 Florida.

The Sooners (8-0) scored a 49.825 on the floor while the Gators (3-1) had a 49.600 on the beam in the night’s final rotation. Behind a record crowd of 5,082, OU finished with a total of 198.325, the fifth-best score in program history. The Sooners now boast two scores of 198 or better this season.

UF notched a season-best 198.025. Florida leads the series 14-10-1.

After the meet, the Gators were buoyed by tonight’s performance. It was a loss, but the Gators saw much promise in its road performance tonight. Four meets into the season and the Gators feel good about their potential.

“I can’t put it into words how proud I am of this team tonight,” Florida coach Jenny Rowland said. “I already told them in our huddle that same thing, but at that time. I could be showing it now with the chill-bumps all over. Really it was an amazing evening. This team really showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight, a lot of grit and just pure joy. They came in very relaxed.

“Something that we talked about this whole week is we’re just competing against ourselves, we’re just trying to get better. And by golly this team got better tonight. They did a really good job and we made some great strides in a lot of areas. Yeah, we left a lot out there on the floor, no pun intended. But it was a really great night. The Gators should be super proud and I’m just thrilled.” 

Florida opened with another great uneven bars total of 49.60 – which stands second in the nation behind its 49.725 set last Friday. Freshman Trinity Thomas equaled her collegiate best of 9.975 for the second consecutive meet to take second overall. Sophomore Megan Skaggs equaled her collegiate-best of 9.95 to anchor the lineup.

On the next rotation, Florida lost tenths on vault landings, to post a 49.15. Freshman Savannah Schoenherr, who had a collegiate-best 9.925 on bars to open the meet, added another collegiate-best to lead Florida on vault with a 9.90. The Sooners equaled Florida’s season-high bars total of 49.725, which included a 10.0 by Nicole Lehmann, to take 0.475 mid-point lead.

That lead narrowed to 0.075 after Florida posted its season-best of 49.60 on floor exercise. Florida’s final two floor performers – Thomas and sophomore Alyssa Baumann – equaled their collegiate bests of 9.95. Freshman Nya Reed also equaled her collegiate high of 9.925.

“Getting this score on the road against the No. 1 team, it pushes us in the right direction. We have a few things here and there, but overall just some landings and we’re good to go,” Baumann said.

Florida finished the meet on balance beam with another season-high of 49.60. Those scores couldn’t keep up with Oklahoma’s floor marks, as the final three Sooners all posted nearly-perfect floor marks of 9.975. Four Gators turned in beam marks of 9.90 or better. Junior Rachel Gowey posted a 9.90, Thomas and junior Amelia Hundley each had collegiate bests of 9.925. Baumann anchored the lineup by equaling her collegiate-best of 9.975 for the third time. The last time she posted the nearly-perfect mark won her the 2018 Southeastern Conference beam title.

OU’s Olivia Trautman won the all-around (39.725), followed by teammate Anastasia Webb (39.65) and Thomas (39.625). Trautman won vault (9.95) and shared the floor win at 9.975 with teammates Jade Degouveia and Brenna Dowell. Lehrmann is the third collegiate to earn a 10.0 on bars this season. Baumann shared the balance beam title at 9.975 with OU junior and defending NCAA all-around champion Maggie Nichols.

It was the fourth meeting between Florida and Oklahoma in a 371-day span. When the two teams met in Gainesville on Jan. 26, 2018, Florida edged Oklahoma by 0.025. The teams met in both sessions at the 2018 NCAA Championships, with the Sooners winning by 0.463 in NCAA Semifinal I and taking second by a 0.1875 margin over the third-place Gators.

Five of the last six NCAA team titles were claimed by these two teams, including sharing the 2014 crown. Florida won title outright in 2013 and 2015 and Oklahoma took the 2016 and 2017 titles.

The Gators return home Friday to host to No. 11 Auburn for the 13th Gators Link to Pink meet.

NotesThis was the nation’s first meet of 2019 that both teams scored better than 198.00

*The nation’s season high was turned in for three events Friday. Oklahoma equaled Florida’s 2019 uneven bars high of 49.725 and turned in the floor exercise high of 49.825. Florida’s 49.60 on balance beam sets the nation’s high total.

*This was the 11th consecutive UF-OU meeting that one team brought the No. 1 ranking

*These two teams have claimed five of the last six NCAA titles, including sharing the 2014 title. Florida won the title outright in 2013 and 2015 and Oklahoma took the 2016 and 2017 titles. In the 2018 NCAA Championships, Oklahoma was second and Florida took third.