GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators’ No.2 preseason gymnastics set their season-high opening total to win Friday’s quad competition at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Florida posted a score of 197.675, followed by Northern Illinois (194.55), Texas Woman’s University (193.70) and Rutgers (192.075).
Tonight’s crowd of 8,219 is the third-highest season opener in the history of the program’s 50 seasons.
An alligator won all of the event‘s titles, including freshmen Sloane blakely claiming it all around. She is the first rookie to win the all-around in a first season since Gator Great Kytra Hunter opened with a victory in 2012 at North Carolina State.
All american Trinity Thomas started his senior season with a 9.95 vault victory. Senior journeyman Nya Roseau was a finalist at 9.90.
A senior Gator All-American shared the event’s next two titles with a freshman from Florida. The uneven bars victory was shared by Schoenherr Savannah and first year student Leanne Wong at 9.875. Then on the beam, Lea Clapper and Blakely tied for victory on beam at 9.95.
Florida used four scores of 9.9 or better to get a 49.575 running total – a total that would have been the team’s third-highest on the event for the 2021 season. Alyssa Baumann tied his near-perfect personal best of 9.975 for the fourth time. All-Americans Megan Skaggs and Reed finished the lineup with 9.95.
Blakely (39.45) and Skaggs (39.40) swept the top two places in the all-around.
Five Gators made their college debut on Friday, including four members of the Florida Recruiting First Class:
The other freshman from Florida, Morgan hurd, did not fail with the team on Friday. She just arrived for the spring semester and had no plans to compete this weekend. Her NCAA certification is not yet complete, which has kept her from being a part of pre-competition presentations and the like. She was on the sidelines on Friday cheering on the Gators in their season opener.
NOTES ON GATOR PERFORMANCE:
- Florida’s 197.675 is her all-time opener of the season record. This is the fourth year in a row that Florida has reset their season opener (2021: 197.50; 2020: 197.35; 2019: 197.30)
- Blakely is the sixth since 1986 to win the all-around in her first collegiate meeting, joining Hunter (2012), Ashane Dickerson (2010), Melanie Sinclair (2007), Corey hartung (2006) and Melissa Miller (1986).
- Blakely’s 9.95 is the highest on record for a Gator making its beam debut. Sophomore All-American Ellie Lazzari established the mark with his 2021 beam performance at Auburn
- Two scores tonight by UF returns have equaled or set collegiate records:
- Baumann – 9.975 (floor)
- Skaggs – 9.95 (G)
- Baumann and Reed competed in two events on Friday, posting scores of 9.9 or better for both performances:
- Baumann – 9.925 (beam), 9.975 (floor)
- Reed – 9.90 (arch), 9.95 (floor)
THE ROWLAND COACH SAID:
“It was an exhilarating night to be in the O’Dome with so many people. I know this team is truly grateful to Gator Nation for showing up tonight.
“I can assure you that this team competed with a lot of heart, passion and courage tonight. It was great to see new faces joining the old ones. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.
“Training throughout the preseason; it gets a bit mundane. We can only replicate the energy of a competition in the gym, and that was an incredible starting point for what’s to come this season. . ” – Florida Head Coach Jenny rowland
FILES: Florida (3-0, 0-0 SEC), Northern Illinois (2-1), TWU (1-2), Rutgers (0-3)
THE SERIES: Florida leads Rutgers and TWU 3-0. It was the first meeting between Florida and northern Illinois
Florida –Florida is No. 2 in the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association preseason poll.
The champions of the Southeastern Conference 2021 will meet on Sunday, January 16 for the very first double collegiate meeting broadcast on network television. ABC is showing Florida No.2 (SEC Regular Season Champion) vs. Alabama No.6 (SEC Championship fixture).
When: Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Place: Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
Tickets: Adults: $ 20 to $ 5 / Children $ 20 to $ 1
Buy tickets for future home games at FloridaGators.com/Tickets
|Preseason # 2 Florida vs NIU, Rutgers, TWU
Final team totals
|January 7, 2022 ● Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center (8,219)|