Gators gymnastics: Trinity Thomas suffers lower leg injury at NCAA Regionals, Florida advances

Ainslie Lee
The Gainesville Sun

If you were to ask any Florida gymnastics fan what their worst nightmare is, many would likely say an injury to senior all-arounder Trinity Thomas.

Unfortunately for the second-ranked Gators and their fans, that seemed to be the case Friday night at the NCAA Pittsburgh Regional as Thomas abruptly ended her floor routine before walking off with Florida's athletic trainer Janet Clark, visibly upset.

Thomas, who had already posted a 9.90 on beam during the meet's first rotation, came out of her double layout and continued through the next few steps of her number before doubling over with her hands on her knees.

Once Thomas' routine music was paused, those in attendance also fell silent as Thomas was helped off the floor by Clark and was briefly visited by head coach Jenny Rowland. Approximately 20 minutes later, Thomas emerged from the locker room and rejoined her teammates without any visible supports or tape. However, Thomas didn't return to competition Friday night.

Florida later revealed that Thomas suffered a right lower leg injury and she is listed as day-to-day.

Despite being without Thomas for the latter half of the night, the Gators were still able to cruise to the Regional Final after posting a score of 197.875. Florida topped Arizona State (197.525), Penn State (196.825) and Maryland (196.675).

"I really don't know what to say," Rowland said afterward. "There comes a time when our athletes have to trust what's going on and we're really grateful and thankful that she didn't try to be a superhero and continue and finish and actually stopped."

Gymnasts listening to their body is something Thomas preaches on often.

In fact, just before she and the Gators left for Pittsburgh, Thomas mentioned that it was one of the aspects that made Florida's team so successful in the postseason.

"This team has done a really good job of taking care of themselves in and outside the gym and speaking up when we need to back off a little bit or push a little bit harder," Thomas said. "We just have a very wise team, an older team and so we know what's best."

Thomas, who hails from York, Penn., was excited to return to her home state and compete in front of a large entourage of family and friends.

"Before going into SECs, it wasn't like we we're going to go to Pittsburgh," Thomas said. "So to be able to move up into second again and get Pittsburgh as a regional, it feels like it was pretty much fate, huh?"

Florida freshman Kayla DiCello, who won this year's SEC Freshman of the Year award, led the way for the Thomas-less Gators, posting an all-around score of 39.800. DiCello's best mark of the night came on the uneven bars, where she notched a perfect 10.

DiCello also won the vault with a 9.950, while sophomore Leanne Wong took the floor title with a 9.975. "Super proud how the team handled that and how they reacted," Rowland said. "They remained calm and continued on."

Following Friday night's meet, the Gators pair up with Arizona State, California and Michigan State in Sunday's region final. From there, the two top teams advance to the NCAA Championships on April 14 and 15 in Fort Worth.