Gators off the mark in first SEC gymnastics loss

Florida gymnast Trinity Thomas performs her floor exercise routine. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun/File]

By Jim Harvin, Correspondent

Seventh-ranked Georgia waltzed into the O’Connell Center on Friday and strutted out a winner after nipping third-ranked Florida by a 197.450-197.375 score before an Exactech Arena crowd of 8,744.

The GymDogs, winning for the fourth straight week, improved to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in Southeastern Conference action while the Gators slipped to 5-2, 5-1.

“It was a good night for the Gators,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “No event stood out. I think more than anything else we had pretty solid performances.

“We left a lot out on the floor tonight, and I think really for the Gators tonight it was a missed opportunity. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve got a lot more competitions to go, and I really think we’re going to respond well from this. We go by scores and really had a decent night tonight.”

Florida can still win at least a share of the regular-season SEC crown next Friday when the Gators close out their conference slate at last-place Arkansas.

Auburn, which also is 5-1 in the conference, closes out it SEC slate at rival Alabama (9-3, 4-2) next Friday.

Freshman Trinity Thomas continued to impress, picking up wins on the uneven parallel bars and floor exercise, both with scores of 9.975, and also won the all-around with a mark of 39.675. She now has 11 event wins and four all-around titles.

Senior Alicia Boren also had a solid meet, winning the vault title with a 9.925, then using an identical score on the floor exercise to tie teammate Nya Reed for second place.

She also finished second to Thomas in the all-around with a mark of 39.600.

“I know it was pretty good,” Boren said. “There were just little things, but I think I’m building up where maybe I can compete. I have my lows here and there, but just getting back out there and doing better each week has definitely made me happy.”

Junior Amelia Hundley tied her personal best on the balance beam, scoring a 9.925 to tie her score against No. 1 Oklahoma on Feb. 1.

“There were things that I was happy about that I’ve improved on in the last few weeks, but there are also things that I beat myself up over a little bit,” Hundley said. “I think this was a good learning experience. We still have a lot of time and I think we can either go down or use it as a learning tool and see what we can do to improve upon it. I think that’s what we’re going to do.”

Rowland knows the Gators still have all their goals in front of them and is expecting them to bounce back against Arkansas.

“I can’t say anything bad,” she said. “I know that this team is full of fight, full of heart and full of passion. They’re going to get back in the gym and do what they do best and that’s continue to work hard and do it for their team, do it for themselves, and do it for Gator Nation.”