Top seed Florida gymnasts fall behind early at NCAA's final four

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida's Alyssa Baumann performs on the floor during the finals Saturday of the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championship at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Top-seeded Florida found itself in a hole it couldn't get out of in Saturday's NCAA Gymnastics Championship in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Michigan, leading from the start, won its first championship, with Oklahoma, the defending NCAA champion, finishing second, Utah third and Florida was fourth. Michigan had a final score of 198.2500, the Sooners were just behind at 198.1625, Utah scored 197.9875 and UF 197.1375. 

The Wolverines were dominant in the first three rotations, and survived Oklahoma's late rally in the fourth.

“Really, this team has been through so much adversity through this year, and today is not what the Gators know that they’re capable of doing," UF coach Jenny Rowland said. "However, what they’ve done throughout this entire season is something that can not be taken away from them, and they have a lot to be proud of.

"And to keep their heads up, and I’m just so thankful and grateful of this team. Their heart, their passion has been there, and their commitment to each other has been there, and it’s been very inspiring to see throughout this year.”

The Gators had to count one of two falls (Payton Richards and Trinity Thomas) on the beam in the meet's first rotation.

"It’s something that we have continuously spoken about all year long, is continuing to take those steps forward and not look back and hang your head down or dwell on things that you can’t control anymore," Rowland said. "Be present and continue to take steps forward and the Gators continued to fight and take those steps forward.”

Michigan led after recording a score of 49.6250 in the first rotation: Michigan 49.625, Oklahoma 49.575, Utah 49.425 and Florida 48.7625.

Halfway through the final, Utah won the second rotation with a score of 49.7000, but Michigan still led: Michigan 99.275, Oklahoma 99.1375, Utah 99.125 Florida 98.3125.

The Wolverines still led after three rotations, as they won there: Michigan 148.7625, Oklahoma 148.625, Utah 148.60 and Florida 147.675. 

“It’s a mix of emotions," Florida's Megan Skaggs said. "I think we all feel happy, because we put everything we had into it. We prepared with everything we had, and one of our major goals was to have no regrets, and I know I can say for myself I have zero regrets walking out of here. So I think that is a great feeling to have, and that was ultimately the goal.

"The end result was not what we wanted, but I think a lot of us are feeling ‘Hey, we gave it everything we had tonight.’ It didn’t go the way we wanted, of course, but we have a lot to be proud of.” 

Florida's Nya Reed performs on the floor Saturday during the NCAA women's gymnastics championships in Fort Worth, Texas.

Saturday performance by Gators

Florida was forced to count a miss toward its beam total for the first time since the 2019 season. Senior Alyssa Baumann led the Gator on the event at 9.925 and freshman Ellie Lazzari turned in a 9.9125.

The Gators looked strong on floor, with four marks of 9.9 or better. The junior duo of Nya Reed and Trinity Thomas each posted 9.95s and seniors Megan Skaggs and Baumann earned 9.9s.

Florida used marks of 9.825 or better toward its vault total. Reed led the team on the event for the second consecutive day, equaling her collegiate best of 9.925.

The Gators finished on uneven bars, getting leading marks of 9.9375 from Skaggs and 9.90 by Thomas.

Note it

This was Florida's 17th NCAA team final appearance (1994, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021). Florida won NCAA team titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

• In the 39-year history of the NCAA Championships, seven teams have won NCAA team titles – Alabama, UCLA, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Utah and now Michigan.

Florida's Megan Skaggs performs in the floor exercise Saturday during the NCAA women's gymnastics championships in Fort Worth, Texas.