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No. 1 Gators post nation's highest score, improve to 4-0

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Florida gymnast Trinity Thomas performs her routine on the bars Friday against Missouri at Exactech Arena. The Gators beat the Tigers.
Florida gymnast Megan Skaggs yells in celebration after her routine on the bars Friday against Missouri at Exactech Arena.

The No. 1-ranked Florida gymnastics team improved to 4-0 by posting the highest score in the nation with Friday night’s 197.850-194.800 win over Missouri. 

“Lots of energy, lots of things to celebrate,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “It means that this team has really put in the daily work, day in and day out. They’ve done a great job of truly paying attention to details. We still have details that we can work on, so really the potential is unlimited.”

UF junior Trinity Thomas bounced back from an atypical performance her last time in the Exactech Arena. Thomas led the Gators in three events, including a 9.950 on both balance beam and floor exercise, before claiming the 16th all-around title of her Florida career with a 39.750. 

“It was great to see her just back,” Rowland said of Thomas. “You could just tell she was on a mission. She was a little bit more light-hearted tonight.” 

Her teammates concurred. 

“I’m just waiting on Trinity to go out there one night and get a perfect 40,” said UF junior Savannah Schoenherr. 

Led by Thomas’ 9.925, Florida opened the night with a 49.375 on vault. Senior Megan Skaggs scored a 9.875, as did Nya Reed. 

Florida gymnast Alyssa Baumann does her routine on the beam Friday as head coach Jenny Rowland, right, watches against Missouri at Exactech Arena.

On their second rotation, the Gators managed to be even better as their 49.60 on uneven bars stands as the highest score in the nation in the event this season.

A week after taking the all-around title in Florida's win at Arkansas, Skaggs scored a career-high-tying 9.95 on uneven bars to continue her impressive run in her final season in Gainesville. 

“Really just her confidence is oozing out. She really has taken such an amazing leadership role on this team, and it’s great to see her reap those benefits,” Rowland said of Skaggs. “She’s given so much to this team, and to see the team support her in this way, I’m really proud to see.”

Ellie Lazzari scored a 9.850 in her floor routine debut, and her head coach acknowledged she was working her way into Florida’s all-around line-up based on her performances through her first month of collegiate competition. 

To use Rowland’s own words against her, however, it’s a marathon rather than a sprint. 

“Within the next couple weeks, I could definitely see her in the all-around position,” Rowland said. “You can see a little bit of nerves here and there, but the first routine in the O’Dome is such a memorable one.”

Sophomore Payton Richards closed out the night for the Gators by registering a career-high 9.875 in her floor routine. 

The Gators have a week off before returning to the competition floor Feb. 12 at LSU, and Rowland said her student-athletes will take advantage by getting some much-needed rest and recovery.

“When we train hard, we really emphasize the days off are just as important and to be mindful and take care of yourself,” Rowland said. “There will be lots of treatments this weekend, lots of rest, and getting ready for a great week. This team definitely hasn’t peaked.”

Florida gymnast Leah Clapper performs her routine on the bars Friday against Missouri at Exactech Arena.