Trinity Thomas leads the Florida Gators to victory and into NCAA gymnastics championship
Senior Trinity Thomas became the first Gator to record a 10 on floor in the NCAA Championships on Thursday night. With impeccable control and exquisite height in her tumbling passes she was perfect once again.
The York, Pennsylvania, native secured the NCAA all-around title with a massive score of 39.812, including titles on bar and floor at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
Thomas' three NCAA individual event titles equals Bridget Sloan (2016) for the UF's record for NCAA event titles in a single championship meet.
Through adversity and a shaky start, the Gators persevered and secured a spot in Saturday’s team final with a total of 197.975. Florida advanced, accompanied by SEC rival Auburn (197.8375), and Oklahoma (198.1125) and Utah (197.7125) from the earlier session Thursday.
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Gators have rough first rotation
The Gators began the night on vault, where they ranked second in the nation but didn’t turn out the routines Gator Nation is used to seeing.
Senior Nya Reed recorded a 9.775 and senior Savannah Schoenherr posted a 9.762 after both had large steps forward on their dismounts.
The Gators looked to build momentum heading into the second rotation but were immediately met with a low-scoring routine from Sloane Blakely on bars. The freshman missed her full pirouette and slipped off the top bar. After remounting, she finished with a double front and had a small hop forward earning a dropped score of 9.150.
Three routines followed before an issue with the apparatus put the remaining routines on hold until it was corrected.
Thomas was set to compete but stepped back into her sweatpants as the problem was addressed.
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Both Thomas and freshman Leanne Wong were allowed a 30-second warmup before beginning their bar routines.
Thomas and Wong remained calm and patient and generated scores of 9.975 and 9.912 respectively.
“I'm really proud of this team," Coach Jenny Rowland said Thursday night. "Really great fight, great heart all the way through. Started a little a little slow as far as just tight, tense. They kept battling, kept fighting. We talked about taking small bites today and not looking at the huge picture of having to advance. Take those small steps, take those small bites and do what we know how to do."
The balance beam is where UF was able to pull themselves up and enter second place in the standings.
Graduate student Megan Skaggs was poised in the leadoff spot and earned a 9.912. Blakley redeemed herself by sticking a side aerial to full and was awarded a 9.900.
Thomas was stunning, scoring 9.937, while senior Leah Clapper smiled on the beam after nailing her opening triple series and posted another 9.900.
Florida trailed nearly the entire night but came up big when it mattered most.
In the final rotation on floor, no Gator scored less than a 9.925.
Next for the Gators
Florida advances to its 18th NCAA team final, with team titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The meet is at 1 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth and will be broadcast on ABC.