NCAA gymnastics: Auburn close to home for Florida Gators senior Savannah Schoenherr

Noah Ram
Special to Gator Sports

Out-of-state Florida athletes often are lucky to play in front of family once during their time in Gainesville. 

For example, Gators star gymnast Trinity Thomas performed a single time in her home state of Pennsylvania, a win at Penn State on March 7, 2020. 

However, fellow senior Savannah Schoenherr, a Columbus, Georgia, native, already suited up 30 miles from her hometown once this season, when Florida competed against Auburn on March 4. Now, the NCAA awarded the opportunity to participate in front of loved ones again. 

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Savannah Schoenherr will have extra fan support

The No. 2 Gators are in the Auburn regional beginning Thursday, with a berth in the national championship on the line. The Gators begin their title journey at 8 p.m. on the floor. All action from east Alabama can be streamed on ESPN+. 

Schoenherr said teammates who didn’t plan on using their extra tickets gave them to her.  “I ended up borrowing like 15 extra tickets,” she said. “It always just means so much more that the people who were there for me from the start of the journey can see me towards the end.” 

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The NCAA provides student-athletes with six extra tickets to start, as opposed to four for SEC regular-reason meets. 

Schoenherr is familiar with competing in Auburn. She earned reps on vault and bars during her sophomore year, when the Gators crushed the Tigers by over three points. 

UF gymnast Savannah Schoenherr gestures in celebration after landing her vault during a meet against the Oklahoma at the Exactech Arena in Gainesville, Feb. 25, 2022.

The 21-year-old said the pressure doesn’t affect her much anymore. 

“I try to keep everything normal and not focus on who’s watching,” she said. “We do a lot of pressure shots in the gym, so I try to replicate that in the competition arena.” 

Her scores back that up. In 2020 at Auburn, Schoenherr earned a 9.825 on vault and a 9.90 on bar, two of her best scores that campaign. This season, she flipped the tallies, receiving a 9.90 on vault and 9.825 on bars. 

Schoenherr, a three-time All-American, constructed a solid regular season, tying career bests in vault and bars on Jan. 28 versus Arkansas. 

Auburn will look to challenge UF

The entire Florida squad profits off traveling to Auburn. Schoenherr and coach Jenny Rowland said the team is used to the equipment and environment at Neville Arena. 

“We felt lucky that we are going back to that arena,” Schoenherr said. “We are familiar with the equipment and excited to have all that energy and using that energy to our advantage.” 

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The host Tigers expect to challenge the Gators this week. Auburn tied UF in that showdown earlier in March and features freshman phenom Sunisa Lee. The Minnesota native won a gold medal in all-around and a bronze in bars at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Earlier this week, she was named to four All-American spots. 

A top-two finish Thursday will move Florida into Saturday’s four-team regional final. The first and second-place teams advance to the NCAA Championships, April 14-16 in Fort Worth, Texas.