Get ready for a crazy night of gymnastics, Gator Nation – it’s Rivalry Night! Your favorite Gator gymnasts will face off tonight against the Georgia Gymdogs, now in their second season under the legendary duo Courtney Kupets-Carter and Suzanne Yoculan. The Gators put out a pretty great preview video on Twitter, showing fans how they’ve prepared for this moment:
Both teams are ranked in the top ten in the nation, the 54th time this has happened out of a total 58 meetings of the two teams since 2003 – talk about highly contested! The Gymdogs lead the all-time series, 92-57-1, but since 2003, the Gators lead 31-21-1. Take note – that date is before the massive run of Gymdog success during the first Kupets-Yoculan era, when Kupets became the most decorated gymnast in the nation and the Dogs won five NCAA titles in a row, so even with all those wins included, the Gators still reign supreme in recent history.
In addition to the storied Gator-Gymdog rivalry, tonight’s meet also features the Baumann sibling rivalry: sophomore Alyssa anchors the beam and floor rotations for the Gators, while sister Rachel is a freshman beam and floor specialist for Georgia. The two are very supportive of each other, but when it comes to competing against each other, they aren’t messing around. Reportedly, Rachel texted her sister to wish her a great day, but Alyssa wasn’t having it. She texted back, “Sorry, can’t talk to you. It’s rivalry week.” Same, girl.
Another story of interest tonight is the crazy life of Trinity Thomas. Following tonight’s meet, she will be heading to Sarasota for a training camp at USA Gymnastics’ temporary national team training center at EVO Athletics. There, she will be contending for spots at both the Jesolo and Gymnix International competitions, where she would represent Team USA while still competing for Gator Nation. Very few gymnasts have ever competed internationally and collegiately at the same time, and hardly any Americans at that. The last NCAA gymnast to do so was Brittany Rogers of Georgia and Team Canada just a few years ago, as she participated in the selection process for the Rio Olympics. Around the same time, Oklahoma gymnast Brenna Dowell took a year off from college gymnastics to compete at Worlds in 2015 for Team USA in hopes of making the team for Rio, but was unsuccessful. Gymnastics analyst Spencer of the Balance Beam Situation makes an excellent point regarding Thomas’s participation at camp. Though cool, he thinks it’s a bit silly for her to attend. “Why have her go to this camp at all?” he writes. “If you want to see her current level [of gymnastics], just turn on the SEC Network.” Thomas has only slightly downgraded her difficulty level for college, often competing two E passes on floor (a feat only matched by one, maybe two other gymnasts in the country) and the same vault she competed in elite. Still, if she were to be assigned to a team for one of these competitions, she would add her name to a very elite list of gymnasts who will represent both their school and their country in the same competition season. In the words of one Twitter fan…
With all that said, competition tonight starts at 7pm. I’ll be giving you all the updates blow-by-blow as we go, so be sure you don’t miss any of the action! Tune into our Instagram story to see updates from warmups, and be back here late tonight for a recap of tonight’s meet, featuring thoughts from the Gators and head coach Jenny Rowland.
6:29pm: Well, missed most of warmups, sorry guys. Parking was an absolute nightmare – if you’re still not at the meet and you’re planning on coming, please walk! Traffic and parking are terrible and most of the parking volunteers haven’t got a clue. Walkout is in 15, and we’ll be treated to a parade of alumni in the meantime. I’ll let you know which former stars are in attendance tonight, and I’ll have lineups for you shortly!
6:40pm: Lineups for the meet! Gowey still out – I plan to ask at the end of the meet what’s up with her. I think these are the same lineups they used last week, except vault – Chant is for Cheney, so that gives Florida a lineup of all 10.0 starts!!
EDIT: Just the third team in the nation to do so, after Oklahoma and Nebraska, since the devaluation of the full. Georgia is giving Alyssa Perez-Lugones a shot at floor tonight, but things there otherwise look normal.
6:42pm: Some awesome alumni in the house tonight – including Melanie Sinclair, Alaina Johnson, Bridgey Caquatto, Alex McMurtry, Kennedy Baker, and of course, current team manager Rachel Slocum. They recognized all the individual NCAA title winners as well as all the recipients of perfect scores in their careers, but they had probably forty ladies out there. The lasting power of Gator Nation is truly remarkable.
6:46pm: Just saw Yoculan walk out with Georgia – she just EXUDES power. Dressed in all black, clacking along in her platform heels, you can tell that she is not to be trifled with. She looks completely unfazed, despite the fact that this is her first visit to the renovated O-Dome with the new technology and intro spectacle.
6:58pm: We start in just a few! Gymdogs are looking good on bars – they’re in all black tonight. Oops, jinxed her. Al-Hameed just went a lil too big on her Tkachev and came off the bar, and then put her hands down on her dismount. Hopefully now she has the jitters out.
7:01pm: Here we go y’all!
Chant, VT: Tsuk full, chest very low, hops in place with a leg up, trying to keep her balance.
Roberts, UB: Maloney to bail, solid. Good last handstand, DLO nice and floaty, little step back.
7:03pm: Reed, VT: Y1.5, deep landing, large step forward, but not really a lunge like she’s done a few times.
Schild, UB: good first handstand, toe on, Ray, lovely! Pak, nice. More good handstands. Girl is a machine. DLO, a little short and bounced forward, stepped back to salute.
7:05pm: A Baumann, VT: Deep landing there again, a little off to the side. One step forward. Block was not great in the replay.
Snead, UB: Good tkachev, bail is straight on. Great last handstand, DLO stuck! What a pro.
7:07pm: Schoenherr, VT: Y1.5, one of her good ones, just a little hop forward. That’s an improvement!
Al-Hameed, UB: Gorgeous first handstand. Full pirouette, Tkachev just flooooats, wow. Bail is great, nice and slow into the toe-on to squat on. Double tuck stuck! That’s a beauty.
7:08pm: Boren, VT: Y1.5, another good one! Just a small step back.
Dickson, UB: First handstand maybe a little shy, tried to go too big on her Ray and absolutely ate it, yikes. Whole arena cheering for her as she gets back up to go again. Rest of her routine goes without incident, full-twisting double lay dismount and sticks it cold. Ugh, what could have been.
7:10pm: Thomas, VT: Y1.5, tooons of power and big hop forward and off to the side. Shouldn’t be as good as Boren, but we’ll see. Scoring is already out of control.
Oakley, UB: Great first handstands, blind change is great. Jaeger is huge, pak gorgeous. Full in, stuck! Great comeback after a long wait for Dickson’s 9.2 score.
AFTER ONE: Florida trails 49.275 to Georgia’s 49.3. Whooooooo, y’all. I told you this would be a good one.
7:20pm: Here comes rotation two, y’all ready?
Magee, VT: FTY, little hop back. A good start for them!
Boren, UB: Tkachev is good, good handstand following. Bail locks into place. Short on last handstand. DLO dismount, Owen was standing in my way so I didn’t see if she stuck or stepped. Replay shows a stick I think.
7:22pm: Ward, VT: Tsuk full like Chant, nice. Another hop on the landing.
Hundley, UB: Good first handstand, Maloney soars. Pak is good – did she brush her foot? I thought I saw a break in her momentum, maybe I’m seeing things. Van Leeuwen is good. Full in stuck! Let me watch the replay. Dang, didn’t show it.
7:24pm: Vega, VT: FTY, maybe a little mushy in the knees. Hop back. Why is she still vaulting again?
Schoenherr, UB: Blind change is good, Jaeger super high if a little close. Next handstand maybe a little shy? Bail is fine. Last one definitely is. Double front half out stuck! Wow, that’s hard to do.
7:26pm: Dickson, VT: Omelianchik, I love this vault on her! Hop forward on the landing but otherwise lovely, great distance.
Skaggs, UB: Great first handstand, Tkachev to pak is so aggressive, I love that about her. Handstands are just gorgeous. DLO stuck! That was picture perfect. Where’s the deduction?? From here, I couldn’t see any, though I couldn’t see if she had any leg sep on the pak.
7:27pm: Lukacs, VT: DTY! Hop back. I love that she kept it for college, she’s such a powerhouse.
Thomas, UB: Maloney to uprise, such power there. Pak is great, van Leeuwen same. Last handstand perfect, sticks DLO and the crowd goes crazy, people cheering for 10s and the coaches encouraging. Boos everywhere because they didn’t give it to her.
7:29pm: Snead, VT: Y1.5, small hop forward. Jumbotron completely missed her because they were focused on Trin.
Chant, UB: Good first handstand, flexed feet on the Tkachev but it was good dynamics wise. Bail is good, she is flying through this routine. Last handstand good. DLO, slide back. Still unsure why they’re having the replacement anchor, but whatever.
AFTER TWO: Florida has taken the lead, 98.675 to Georgia’s 98.65. It is still so tight, guys. 9.9s for the last three vaults for Georgia (really? No separation there? I’m confused.) but Boren will still take the win there with her 9.925. Thomas again will take bars with her 9.975.
7:37pm: Third rotation starts now!
Skaggs, BB: Lots of arm waves but gets her double wolf around. Leap series is good. Bhs loso, breaks at the hips but doesn’t fall off. Woof. Cat leap side aerial back full, stuck. A good save, but not the lead they would have wanted.
Perez-Lugones, FX: Double pike to open, solid. 1.5 to front lay, good control on the forward landing. This music is so high energy, okay here comes the dance. She wasn’t really matching the energy level before but she’s warming up to it. Double back to close, very nice! They’re all so happy for her, that’s awesome.
7:41pm: Hundley, BB: Front aerial to sissone is good. Bhs loso, super secure. Cat leap to switch side, deep plie and waits for it. Roundoff 1.5 stick! That’s a good reset, they needed that.
7:43pm: R Baumann, FX: Love the sass she’s bringing right off the bat. Double pike to open, good pop. Double tuck, a little stutter step back there, might have overpowered it. Double L to full turn, yas girl! 1.5 to front lay, dances right out, very nice! Another good one.
7:45pm: Boren, BB: Gainer front toss, obsessed. Bhs loso, snaps her arms into place, she’s like “I am NOT moving.” Leap series good. Gainer loso is good. Cartwheel to gainer full, stuck!
Snead, FX: Sticking with the double pike right now, wonder if her back is bothering her. Rudi to shushunova, gorgeous. Whip through to double tuck, solid. Not my favorite routine of hers, but I have high dance standards I guess.
7:49pm: Thomas, BB: Switch half to beat, steady. One arm bhs to loso, straight on. Front aerial, puts the wolf jump connection back in this week! Roundoff double full, slide back.
Lukacs, FX: DLO to open, great control on the landing. Dance series positions very sharp, nice. Whip to 1.5 to front lay, that’s a fun one! She’s so fun to watch. Double pike to close, and it’s the routine that keeps on giving, two fake endings in the dance before she’s actually done.
7:52pm: A Baumann, FX: Onodi! Yes. Bhs loso, she’s off, tries to save it but falls. Damn. Not how she wanted tonight to go. Side aerial is lovely. Roundoff 1.5, stick! What a shame, the rest was just beautiful. Puts Clapper in a pressure situation for sure.
7:54pm: Dickson, FX: Double arabian, her technique scares me every time on that, she barely got the punch for it tonight and had to stutter step back. 1.5 to front lay, dances right out. Gorgeous straddle positions. Double pike to close is good, finishes right in front of the judges, cute.
7:55pm: Clapper, BB: Bhs loso loso, a little bit off but waits for it and stays strong, no wobble. Switch to split, lovely. Side aerial back full, little shuffle forward and chest down but it’s a hit! Team is stoked for her.
7:57pm: Vega, FX: I’m obsessed with this routine, so amped to see it in person. Double pike to open, totally in control. 1.5 to front lay to split jump, gorgeous. Florida is all watching her put on a show, they recognize talent where it’s due. Double back, she shouts something as she finishes because she’s so pleased with her hit! Just fabulous showmanship.
AFTER THREE: Georgia has retaken the lead 147.975 to Florida’s 147.85. That’s the biggest lead either team has had so far this meet. It’s gonna come down to the very last routine, I think.
Also, in case anyone is interested in the rest of the SEC…
8:06pm: Okay, here we go with the last rotation! It all comes down to this.
Snead, BB: Bhs loso bhs, maybe felt a little off but masked it well. Switch to straddle, good. Punch front is good. Roundoff double full, slide forward.
8:08pm: Schoenherr, FX: Double pike to open, totally floats that landing. Dance positions are so precise. 1.5 to front lay, good control. Jeremy Miranda is here tonight, I can hear him cheering for her even over the music. Amazing. Rudi, stumbles out of the landing for some reason, maybe overtwisted? But saves it, doesn’t fall or take a knee.
8:10pm: Dickson, BB: Front aerial to straddle 1/4, nice. Bhs loso, leg comes up but she doesn’t fall. Switch to split, maybe a little short in her second split. Bhs 1.5 twist, stick! Not her best but she didn’t fall. Apparently still goes 9.85? Okay??????
8:12pm: Hundley, FX: Whip double back to open, well controlled. Double pike second pass, and here comes the showmanship. Even Jenny is dancing along to this part, I love. 1.5 to front lay, dances right out and the crowd goes crazy – this girl is on tonight!
8:13pm: Magee, BB: Cheney and Hundley are slow dancing on the floor, distracting me, oops! I saw Magee’s dance elements which were all lovely, side aerial to back full dismount, looked like a stick? Definitely a hit though.
8:15pm: Reed, FX: Double lay to open is GORG as usual. She’s serving it tonight for real. Hitting every musical mark, almost better than she usually does. Front lay to Rudi, nice! She has something extra in this tonight, and if ever there was a time, it’s tonight. Double pike to close and the crowd goes nuts! Already screaming for 10s and it’s only the 3 slot…
8:17pm: Oakley, BB: Bhs loso, a little lean but keeps it small. Front aerial, smallish leg up bobble. Split to split ring jump, oooh! Cartwheel to gainer full, stuck!
8:19pm: Boren, FX: DLO to open as usual, just the pop out to lunge. 1.5 to front lay is good, controlled step forward. Dance is great, she adds a little record scratch motion just for tonight too! That’s great. Double tuck to close, crowd is already screaming for her. she’s gonna end up with a 9.925 and people are NOT happy.
8:21pm: R Baumann, BB: Series secure. Wolf hop to switch leap, little balance check but that’s a fun one. Roundoff double full, stuck! Some lady just shouted “deduct for the wobbles” behind me. Girl, same.
8:23pm: Thomas, FX: DLO to open, beautiful as always. Didn’t see if she did the full or double to front lay this week, I was too busy listening to same lady going “I’m sorry but that’s crap” to R Baumann’s 9.925. Double pike to close and it’s gorgeous as always, almost goes out but knows exactly where she is.
8:25pm: Vega, BB: Keeping her cool through the arena noise like a pro. Front aerial to split jump, is solid. Moonwalk! Bhs loso is secure. Side aerial back full stuck! That’s a real 9.925.
8:27pm: A Baumann, FX: Here we go, y’all. Double tuck to open still, I am dying for that DLO, it looked great at warmup. 1.5 to front full, a little crossed over on the landing and that could honestly be it, it’s so close. She needs a 9.9 to tie. Double pike to close is good. It’s gonna be tiiiiiiiiiiight y’all, oh my god.
FINAL: Y’all, Georgia just upset Florida. 197.45 to 197.375.
Vault goes to Boren with a 9.925, bars to Thomas with 9.975. Beam goes to Vega with her 9.95 (honestly not mad at that) and floor to Thomas with a 9.975 again. What does the girl need to do to get a 10???? She takes the all around as well with a 39.675.
I’ll have more from interviews in the recap, but that’s it for the liveblog tonight guys! Thanks for joining us!