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Preseason No. 1 Gator gymnasts begin 2021 with win at No. 14 Auburn

Special to Gatorsports.com

AUBURN, Ala. — Top-ranked Florida used its highest-season opening total to claim the SEC gymnastics win Friday at No. 14 Auburn.

Florida started the season with a 197.50 - 195.725 win in front of a sold-out reduced capacity Auburn Arena crowd of 1,100. SEC gymnastics opened 2021 action Friday with each of the four host sites selling out their limited physically-distanced ticket numbers.

"Really proud of this team and all that they've overcome," UF coach Jenny Rowland said. "Just like all of these athletes, it's been a long time since they've been out on the competition floor. Had a little bit of a slow start, but it was such a calm, normal day for the Gators. Actually, the routines were good. There were a lot of great things tonight. Overall looking at the score, couldn't be more proud of the team." 

Florida trailed the Tigers by 0.05 after the opening rotation. The Gators’ uneven bars team total of 49.05 was dinged by steps or low dismounts. Junior Trinity Thomas and Leah Clapper led UF with marks of 9.875 to tie for second overall. Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne took the evening’s bars title at 9.90.

Florida looked at mid-season form on vault, as its total of 49.55 is the highest for the team since the 2017 season. Thomas’ near-perfect mark of 9.975 set her collegiate best. Three Gators — Ellie Lazzari, Megan Skaggs and Nya Reed — shared second by setting or equaling their collegiate best of 9.90.

The Gators were led on floor by Thomas’ 9.95 and Reed was just a fraction behind at 9.925. Thomas claimed the event title and Reed shared second with Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne. Florida tallied a 49.30 on the event.

Four balance beam marks of 9.90 or better - including winning marks of 9.95 by Thomas and Lazzari — helped Florida post a meet-high event total of 49.60. Senior Alyssa Baumann took third at 9.925 and junior Sydney Johnson-Scharpf earned a 9.90.

Thomas’ four event titles included upping the Gators’ season opening all-around total best to 39.75.

GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:

• Florida’s 197.50 is its all-time high in a season opener. The previous high of 197.35 came versus Arkansas in 2020 home opener.

• Thomas raised her career all-around titles total to 15, which is ninth overall on Florida’s Career Victories chart.

• Ellie Lazzari’s 9.95 is the highest ever for a Gator making their beam debut. The previous high of 9.925 was set by Sydney Johnson-Scharpf versus LSU.

UP NEXT: It’s a top-10 matchup when No. 10 Georgia visits Gainesville at 6:45 p.m. Friday (Jan. 15). The meet is soldout.