By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
The second-ranked Florida gymnastics team put together a stellar performance in Friday’s dual meet with No. 12 Auburn, using its highest home score of the season to down the Tigers 197.850-196.700 before an Exactech Arena crowd of 9,055 on Link to Pink Night at the O’Connell Center.
The Gators got individual wins from senior Alicia Boren on the vault (9.925), freshman Trinity Thomas on the uneven bars (9.95) and floor exercise (9.975), and added a three-way win on the balance beam as Boren, junior Rachel Gowey and sophomore Alyssa Baumann all shared the top spot with identical marks of 9.90.
In addition, Thomas captured the all-around with a score of 39.70, tying her career-high, with Boren (39.625) second and Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne (39.450) third.
Florida (4-1, 4-0) is now the only SEC team without a conference loss, while Auburn (5-1, 4-1) tasted defeat for the first time this season.
“The gymnastics was very good tonight,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “We had four solid events.
“We started off on vault and it was good. We’ve been focusing on really staying calm in practice and it really showed out on the competition floor. We finished solid. We had a couple of missed landings, but for the most part we did a really nice job.”
While Boren and Thomas were solid as always, there were several other key performances.
For one, freshman Savannah Schoenherr enjoyed her best night of the season, sharing second on the vault with UF’s Thomas and Auburn’s Gobourne – all with 9.90s – then adding a pair of 9.85s on bars and floor.
“It feels really good,” Schoenherr said. “I’m glad that I can contribute to my team score, and that’s honestly just my goal at this point is to help as much as I can. I think I’m really starting to kind of get all the jitters out.
“It’s a lot more fun now, and the first few meets I was overthinking or thinking too hard about everything. Now I know that I can be normal. I don’t overthink it as much. I just go out there and have fun and do what I do every day in practice.”
Rowland was quite impressed.
“I’m very, very proud,” she said. “Adding another event into the mix and not only another whole event but a new skill on bars. She was amazing really and did a nice job. She had a lot more on her plate tonight and handled herself very well. I’m really proud of her.”
Boren, who competes in the all-around at every meet, once again enjoyed success across the board.
“I thought I did really well,” Boren said. “I’ve been struggling to come out of the gate. I’ve been training every practice, just kind of taking it and working hard to get that confidence.”
The Gators are now unbeaten in all 13 of their Link to Pink meets.
“It was a great night,” Rowland said. “The Link to Pink Night is always a really special event. It’s something that I know the team takes a lot of pride in. They have a lot of people near and dear to their hearts that they get to compete for, other than Gator Nation, so it’s really very special.”
Next up, the Gators hit the road for a dual meet with No. 8 Alabama. UF will take on the Tide at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Tuscaloosa.