Thomas' 10s lead No. 1 Gators gymnastics in record-setting Senior Night

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Florida gymnasts Trinity Thomas performs on the bars where she scored a Perfect 10, as the Gators beat the Auburn Tigers at Exactech Arena on Friday.

It was a night for celebration Friday — and one for the record books.

With three of the four juniors who missed last week’s meet back in the line-up, the No. 1-ranked Gators gymnastics team continued its dominance this season, claiming at least a share of the SEC regular season title while totaling the nation’s highest score with a 198.275–197.025 victory over No. 18 Auburn in UF’s penultimate meet of the season, which also served as Senior Night for Alyssa Baumann, Jazmyn Foberg and Megan Skaggs. 

“It’s been an incredible journey, and I always loved to see these young women just grow throughout their four years here,” Florida coach Jenny Rowland said of the 2021 senior class. “Not just in the gym, but outside of the gym. To see these three just continue to grow in their leadership roles and figure out who they are, and how to own it, I really couldn’t be more proud.”

Despite much of the focus during and after the meet rightfully on Florida’s trio of seniors, junior Trinity Thomas stole the show in her return to the competition floor. 

Thomas was perfect for half of the night in scoring two 10s, first on uneven bars and then finally on floor, en route to capturing the all-around title with a 39.750. 

Thomas joins Alex McMurtry as the only UF gymnast in program history to record two 10s in one meet, a feat McMurtry accomplished in 2018 against Oklahoma. 

“There were so many emotions tonight. This team has been through a lot together,” Thomas said. “It’s so good that all three of the seniors had great meets and I’m so excited to see them just keep pushing.”

She was far from the only gymnast making the most of her final appearance at home. Skaggs scored a career-high 9.925 to help lead the Gators to a 49.450 – 49.325 over the Tigers after the first rotation. Junior all-around Savannah Schoenherr, who missed last week’s Link to Pink meet against Kentucky due to COVID-19 protocols, led UF with a 9.950 in the event. 

Led by Thomas’ 10 on uneven bars, the Gators held a 98.950 – 98.475 lead midway through the meet; Baumann and Skaggs came in second and third in the rotation for the Gators with a 9.900 and 9.925, respectively. 

It marked Baumann’s second time in as many weeks competing in Florida’s bars line-up after not having competed in the event since 2016. 

“These seniors earned their spots. That’s what this team has been doing, day-in and day-out, is coming in and doing what they can to get in the line-up,” Rowland said. “They did a fantastic job.”

After scoring a 10 on beam against the Wildcats, Leah Clapper tied for the lead in the event with freshman Ellie Lazzari, with the pair notching 9.975s to pace Florida to a 49.700 in the third rotation, the highest rotation score in program history in one rotation. 

Florida didn’t count lower than a 9.900 on beam, giving the Gators a full-point lead, 148.650 – 147.650, heading into the floor finale. 

“A casual 49.7,” Rowland joked. “Not casual by any means. Really, every single athlete wants to go up and get a 10, but every single athlete in that line-up is totally capable of scoring a 10, and it’s a very difficult feat to attain and to see multiple for different athletes on the score sheet, is just really remarkable.”

What a final rotation it was, and once again it was a committee effort. 

Starting things off for the Gators on floor, Clapper would record a career-high 9.825 in the event, and Lazzari would do the same with her routine, adding a career-high 9.900 before Thomas’ second 10. Baumann would record her highest score of the night in the event as well with a 9.950. 

“You could say she is becoming the greatest Gator gymnast ever,” Rowland said of Thomas. “Really it is a moment to celebrate, a moment to cherish, and something that very, very few gymnasts ever attain in their career.”

Showing no signs of slowing down — one could make the argument the Gators have improved each week — unbeaten Florida will look to conclude the regular season next Friday on the road when the Gators travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to take on the Crimson Tide at 8:30 p.m. Two weeks later, Florida will be back in Alabama — but for the SEC Championships in Huntsville on March 20 rather than a regular season meet. 

“This team has been doing so great in the gym, and all of our hard work is paying off,” Thomas said. “I’m so proud of them.”

Note: Florida claimed its 13th SEC title and third consecutive (1982, ’83, ’84, ’85, ’89, ’07, ’10, ’12, ’13, 16, ’19, ’20, ‘21). This is the fifth year for the awarding of a regular-season SEC gymnastics title. From 1981-2016, the winner at the SEC Championship meet was considered the league champion.

Florida gymnasts Trinity Thomas, left, and Alyssa Baumann hold up the SEC Championship trophy Friday as the team celebrates winning at least a share of the league's regular season title after beating Auburn at Exactech Arena.
Florida gymnast Alyssa Baumann performs on the bars Friday against Auburn at Exactech Arena.
Florida gymnast Megan Skaggs performs on the beam Friday against Auburn at Exactech Arena.