Florida gymnastics: No. 3 Gators post season-high score to top Missouri, extend SEC win streak

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun

The third-ranked Florida gymnastics team posted its highest score of the season and second highest in the NCAA this year, beating No. 15 Missouri 198.35 to 196.625 Friday before a season-high 9,691 at the O'Connell Center.

The Gators (8-0, 5-0 SEC) extended their conference unbeaten streak to 27 straight meets, dating back to March 1, 2019 at Arkansas.

"Incredibly excited about tonight," Florida coach Jenny Rowland said. "There were some really good moments. Little details here and there, things that we've been working on, that I'd like to say we're tweaking. Nothing major, but we feel needs to happen in order to continuously get better week after week.""

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The sellout crowd for the Link to Pink meet, which raised awareness for breast cancer prevention, was the fourth highest in program history and highest since the O'Dome's renovation in 2016. They cheered loudest when freshman Kayla DiCello posted a 10 on the bars and senior Trinity Thomas scored a 10 on the beam.

Here are three takeaways from the meet:

Trinty Thomas breaks UF all-around record

Thomas broke UF's school record with her 28th all-around title, passing Bridget Sloan, who posted 27 all-around crowns in her UF career.

Sloan, a gymnast at Florida from 2012-16, won NCAA all-around titles in 2013 and 2016 and is now a gymnastics analyst for the SEC Network.

Thomas said she's met Sloan a few times and they've shared some conversations.

"She's incredible," Thomas said. "She left quite the legacy. To be among the names like that is really, really special."

Thomas scored a 39.825 overall for the meet. She nearly posted her second 10 in the floor routine, but after getting 10s from two judges, a third gave her a score of 9.950.

"They should have been switched," Thomas said. "I thought my beam was pretty good, it didn't feel like a 10. My floor did feel like a 10 to me, which is saying a lot because I'm picky.

"But just taking steps forward every single week is the most important thing. We're on our own ride to a national championship and that's what we're working toward."

First 10 of the season for Kayla DiCello

DiCello posted her first 10 of the season on the bars. It also was the first 10 of the season for a freshman in NCAA women's gymnastics.

The Florida Gators student sections wears all pink for the annual Link to Pink Match except for one lone student during the meet against the Missouri Tigers at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Friday, February 10, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

"I knew that if I did the same bar routine that I always do in practice, it would come," DiCello said. "Right before I went I always think I can do better and I just tell myself to give my all."

DiCello's all-around score of 39.750 also was the highest by a freshman nationally in 2023

Gators strongest on floor routine

Of the four events in the meet, the Gators were the strongest on the floor routine, posting a score of 49.725. Thomas, Leanne Wong and Sloane Blakely all posted scores of 9.975.

Florida Gators gymnast Sloane Blakely performs on the floor exercise during the meet against the Missouri Tigers at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Friday, February 10, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

It was a jump as the Gators posted 49.250 on the floor a week before against Georgia.

"Lineups are changing," Rowland said. "Spots are changing. Some may have been in different positions here and there and really that's what a season for us is. Luckily these athletes have put themselves in a position for us to make those changes and see how we can best maximize our scoring potential."