Gymnastics

WGYM Liveblog: Senior Night with No. 25 Penn State at No. 3 Florida

Ladies and gents, we have some exciting stuff in the works! Stay tuned for more news about what I did pre-meet today, but I had to make sure we got our liveblog all set up for tonight too.

The Gators take on Big 10 hotshots Penn State tonight as they try to solidify the picture for postseason and send the seniors off in style. Penn State has some solid performances coming from Lauren Bridgens, Sabrina Garcia, and Alissa Bonsall, but it’s not likely they’ll upset the Gators. Here are your lineups for tonight:

Keep your eyes peeled for a 10 tonight, y’all. Alicia Boren is finally anchoring floor and Trinity Thomas is anchoring bars, both where they rightfully belong score-ability-wise. If they can do what they’re capable of, both should be right in the mix to join the perfect score club this season.

6:49pm: Getting ready to go! Intros happening now, action starts in just ten minutes.

7:01pm: Here we go, y’all! Rotation 1!

Skaggs, VT: FTY, clean in the air if piked a little early? HOLY CRAP SHE STUCK! Best one she’s done in a long time.

McCracken, UB: Clean first handstand. Tkachev is powerful but doesn’t get much air. Goes over the wrong way on a handstand, tries to muscle it the right way but can’t. Bail after she gets her bearings is wild, something wonky in the windup to her dismount too. Double tuck, maybe a step? I could hardly tell.

7:03pm: Alexander, VT: This is a change, Chant warmed up in this spot all night but Alexander was looking better throughout warmups. And that’s why! FTY, absolutely fire, stuck the landing!

Chinnery, UB: Tkachev is HUGE, straight to an overshoot. Last handstand a little short. Blind full to double tuck is stuck! A good reset for them.

7:05pm: Reed, VT: Y1.5, she’s a little short and takes a stumble backward. She’s trying too hard to compensate for the fact that she normally overcooks them.

Politz, UB: Opening handstands okay. Jaeger is gorgeous, straight to overshoot. Last handstand acceptable but not perfect. Double front dismount, step forward.

7:07pm: Thomas, VT: Y1.5, looks like she gets very little block but somehow she pulls it out and only takes a small shuffle?? Amazing.

Bridgens, UB: Lovely release. Bail is good. Dismount stuck!

7:09pm: Schoenherr, VT: Y1.5, one of her better ones today, just a slide forward.

Bonsall, UB: Great first handstand. Maloney to pak is gorgeous, very aggressive. Last handstand maybe a little shy. DLO slide back.

7:11pm: Boren, VT: Y1.5, just a hop on the landing. One of her good ones, nice and high and tight body position.

Garcia, UB: Goes big on the first handstand and almost goes over but saves it. Piked Jaeger is lovely. Bail is dead on. Great last handstand. DLO little slide back. A solid rotation after a rough start for PSU.

7:12pm: Cheney is going to exhibition on vault, meaning she gets to vault and get scored, but it doesn’t count toward the team total. FTY, slide back, but it’s one of her better ones. Glad she got the chance to do it tonight.

AFTER ROTATION ONE: 49.475 Gators, 49.2 Lions

That’s a new season-high mark for Florida on vault, and Skaggs, Alexander and Thomas all earned or matched their collegiate-best marks! If this is what Gator vault looks like in preseason, watch out, y’all.

7:20pm: Astarita, VT: FTY, not much distance and very piked down at the end, chest low.

Boren, UB: She has been leaps and bounds on bars since coming to Florida, I’m seriously impressed. Tkachev is the smoothest I’ve seen it in a while, bail is solid. DLO dismount, slide back. Not perfect, but a good start for them.

7:22pm: Bonsall, VT: FTY, again short, has to hop forward.

Gowey, UB: She’s back! Just bars for her tonight, but it’s progress. First handstand is great. Ray, gorgeous as always. Pak good. Last handstand short, womp. DLO, bounce back. I think it’s the mat, no one on either team has stuck so far tonight.

7:24pm: Garcia, VT: Yhalf, biiig lunge forward. Not her best.

Hundley, UB: Good first handstand. Maloney and pak just float, so nice. Leg sep in the Van Leeuwen. Full in, there’s a stick!

7:25pm: Bridgens, VT: FTY, nice straight body position, just a little adjustment on the landing. Much better than any of her teammates who’ve gone so far.

Schoenherr, UB: Jaeger gets so much height, wow. Bail handstand is straight. Last handstand a little shy, and it’s not the only one. Double front half out, was that a stick??

7:27pm: LaGuardia, VT: FTY, a little forward in her feet on the landing but covers well, slide back.

Skaggs, UB: Great first handstand! Tkachev to pak is so dynamic, so strong. Great last handstand, snaps it into place. DLO, maybe a slide back? Bars coach Owen Field was standing right in between me and her.

7:29pm: Chinnery, VT: FTY is eeeeasy for her, big hop back but lots of power.

Thomas, UB: First handstand good. Maloney to uprise, so strong. Pak is good. van Leeuwen solid, last handstand lovely. DLO, hop back. No 10 here, oh well.

7:30pm: Chant is going to exhibition bars… why, I’m not sure, since she’s had competition reps this season, but whatever. Clapper also warmed up bars today, but I guess they can only have one. Tkachev is fine, following handstand is not. Bail okay, last handstand is good. DLO slide back.

AFTER TWO: 98.95 Gators, 98.125 Lions. 

The landings are what killed the score on bars. They’ll have to be near perfect on beam and floor to break 198 now.

7:39pm: Rotation three, let’s go!

Hundley, BB: She’s switched to My Way by Sinatra for her beam music, I’m obsessed. Front aerial to sissone, good. Bhs loso, bobble but locks her arms down and keeps it small. Cat leap to switch side, a little hesitation but not enough to take her connection, I don’t think. Roundoff 1.5 stick! A good recovery.

7:40pm: Hosek, FX: 2.5 twist to open, waaaay prettier than what I saw in warmup. 1.5 front lay for her second pass. Straddle positions in her dance elements are good. Her dance is not engaging at all though, like I can tell she’s trying, but there’s just not enough going on. Double pike to close, good. I honestly can’t even tell you what her dance was like, though, there was so little of it.

7:42pm: Skaggs, BB: Double wolf, verrrrry bobbly but stays on okay. Leaps are lovely. Bhs loso, little lean to her right but doesn’t let it show, no wobbles or bobbles. Side aerial back full, stick! Another good one for the Gators.

7:44pm: Bonsall, FX: Double tuck to open, solid. Leap positions, solid, maybe a little short on the first one. Lots more energy and choreography here, I appreciate that. Front lay to front full, comes in a little short but covers well. Fun section on the floor here, lots of posing but she hits her beats well. Double pike, well controlled.

7:46pm: Boren, BB: Gainer front toss is dead on. Bhs loso, super steady. I Hope You Dance is her beam music tonight, so appropriate for senior night. Leap series is good. Cat leap to gainer loso, crowd loves it! Cartwheel gainer full. Crowd is screaming, team is chanting and flashing 10 hands. I don’t think they’ll go for it now but wait til floor, guys.

7:48pm: Chinnery, FX: Double pike, chest really low, but looked like a two foot stick? Double tuck, looked like she didn’t get the punch she needed and came in short. She has a lot of music familiar to the Gator fans in her routine, but they’re all focused on the 9.925 Boren just got. 1.5 to front pike to close, looked really off her axis but pulled it out.

7:50pm: Clapper, BB: Bhs loso loso right off the top and she NAILS it! Crowd loves her. Leap series is good. Side aerial back full, a little crooked but she swims for the stick and gets it!

7:52pm: Bridgens, FX: Girl is hitting all these musical marks, I love. Double tuck, sooooo high. Doesn’t she have an E pass? Where is it? Oh, second pass is a front double full, there it is, haha! Maybe a little crooked in the air on her dance elements but hits the positions okay. Front full to front lay, a little short but covers okay. Definitely their best so far.

7:54pm: Thomas, BB: Switch half beat jump, solid. One arm bhs to loso is super solid. Her confidence is just through the roof! Front aerial, again no wolf jump. Smart change on Jenny’s part. Roundoff double full, I think a slide on the landing though. Yup, replay shows it.

7:55pm: Astarita, FX: Super open double tuck to start, keeps her hands at her side. That’s unique. 1.5 to front lay, definitely not short there. Jump positions are good. I think she’s rushing through her music a little. Double pike, comes realllly close to OOB but stays in. I think Bridgens deserves to go later in this lineup personally, but maybe that’s just my taste.

7:57pm: Baumann, BB: She’s looking at her hair in the Jumbotron, ha! Okay girl, let’s see it. Bhs loso, solid. No Onodi tonight. Switch to switch half, maybe a little shy and a flexed foot?? Say it ain’t so! Side aerial super solid. Roundoff 1.5, one foot adjustment. Glad she’s got her mojo back though.

7:59pm: Garcia, FX: Double tuck to open, and there’s already more dancing here than in any other routine, wow. Double pike second pass. She’s got so much sass, I loveeee this! Illusion turn straight to the floor, wow. 1.5 front lay, she hits these beats so hard. Definitely their best by far. A lady behind me said “You go ‘head, girl,” and I’m just sitting here going “Same!”

8:00pm: Cheney exhibitioning here too. Bhs bhs loso and she falls – first time I’ve seen her do that in a long time, but the arena gives her a big cheer when she gets up. Switch side to shushunova (a dive down to put her hips on the side of the beam as she supports herself with her arms). Side aerial to back full, and the team rushes to hug her. Maybe not the way she’d like her last routine in the O-Dome to have gone, but still nice to see her compete on both her events tonight.

8:02pm: Erynne Allen of PSU is exhibitioning on FX, fun! Glad to see her finally competing after sitting two years at Kentucky. Double pike to open, nice. Clearly not there on the showmanship yet but the fact that she’s doing this on this kind of a stage is good for that. Double tuck to close… didn’t see a combo pass in there so I’m guessing it’s not up to level yet? Still, good for her for getting out there!

AFTER THREE: 148.5 Gators, 147.15 Lions

Okay, so for Florida to go 198 this week, everyone will need to go 9.9 or better. If they can come out and do what they did in warmups, I think they can do it. But we’ll see.

8:10pm: Rotation four!!! Let’s see what Florida floor has in store for us tonight.

Verdeflor, BB: Single wolf turn, fine. Front aerial to korbut (bhs swingdown to straddle the beam), that’s fun. Side aerial, little lean. Split to stag, another unique touch. Side somi directly (kinda, there was a wobble) to back tuck full! Huh, haven’t seen anything like that since Hallie Mossett at UCLA two years ago.

8:12pm: Skaggs, FX: This routine is all scatting jazz, I love it so much. Double pike to open, great control. Rudi second pass, very nice. Lovely positions and toe point in her dance elements. 1.5 to front lay to close, and already they’re starting off with a strong score!

8:14pm: Politz, BB: Front aerial, major break at the hips. Full turn is fine. Missed her leap series, sorry. Cat leap, front aerial to bhs, that’s a fun mixed series. Gainer full, stick.

8:16pm: Hundley, FX: whip double tuck to open and she rolls out of bounds! Oh no! Hopefully she can recover and not let that affect the rest of her routine. Double pike, totally normal, good. Her on the floor choreography (which Jeremy Miranda lets me know they had tweaked after seeing my comments so many times… sorry not sorry) is not super different but changed just enough that it doesn’t feel like she’s just lying or sitting there, which is good. 1.5 to front lay to close, fine. Ugh, except for the one pass, it was a solid set.

8:18pm: Hosek, BB: Bhs loso, leg comes up in a bobble but she stays on. Switch to gainer loso to knee, that’s fun! Split to straddle quarter, nice positions in the air. Front aerial, good. Cat leap to gainer full, stick. Little mistakes here and there for PSU, but they’re showing good fight.

8:20pm: Reed, FX: DLO, I didn’t see it but I saw the flag go up, I think it was only one foot. I think she’s in her head a little, her facial expressions are not as exaggerated as they normally are. Front lay to Rudi, nice! She saw Slocum dancing her routine in the corner where she started that pass and immediately her face lit up – man, they must be glad to have her another year, even if only on the sidelines. Double pike to close, good.

8:22pm: McCracken, BB: Front aerial bhs series. Lovely needle scale, showing her flexibility. Split to stag, nice. Cat leap to front aerial, good. Bhs gainer full, slides back in her salute.

8:24pm: Thomas, FX: DLO, doesn’t even come close to OOB, showing that incredible control. Front full to front lay this time, I think, for her combo pass. Doing the worm – I have to ask Miranda if that is a tribute to Kytra Hunter or not. More on that another time. Double pike, has the awareness to know she’s super close to the line and doesn’t put her heel down when she lunges. Ten hands everywhere, but we’ll see.

8:26pm: Bastardi, BB: Front aerial bhs, I missed what came before because of the booing for Trin’s 9.975. Front toss to beat, bobble. Switch to straddle. She’s a trasnfer from WVU, I bet PSU is glad to have her. Side aerial to back full, stick!

8:28pm: Baumann, FX: Owen and Jenny already getting the crowd amped here. Sticks with the double tuck again, probably smart even though the DLO looked really good in warmup – it’s coming, I can feel it. 1.5 to front full, so pretty. Double pike, a little short but tries to cover it. No 10 chants this time, but a solid showing.

8:30pm: Bridgens, BB: Cat leap front toss, nice. Switch to… tuck full? Full something, couldn’t see the position since Jenny was directly in front of me. Full turn is nice. Bhs loso, super secure. Roundoff 1.5 and her team goes nuts! Great way for PSU to end this meet.

8:32pm: Boren, FX: HERE WE GO Y’ALL! This is not a drill, she is finally anchoring! Her senior night in the O-Dome and the crowd is already on their feet, wow. DLO, pops out into the lunge for comfort, honestly looked like could’ve two-foot stuck it. 1.5 to front lay, single step out, good control. This is where the routine becomes showstopper material – in her personality, in her hitting every beat of the music, in the way she engages the crowd in everything she does. Double tuck to close. I just watched a guy take his shirt off he’s so excited, holy god. Aaaaand it’s her umpteenth 9.975. Oh well.

8:35pm: Clapper is gonna exhibition here, good for her. Double pike, step OOB. Combo pass is good, missed exactly what the twists were. Team being super supportive even though the meet is over and they’re starting to get sad about it being senior night already. Rudi to finish, a great first showing for her!

FINAL SCORE: 198.025 Gators, 196.325 Lions

Despite the lack of total perfection, Florida still went above 198! Also, people are booing the judges as they leave the arena. Can’t say I disagree but I think that time has passed.

Awards go to Thomas for vault at 9.95, Bridgens and Hundley for bars at 9.925, Skaggs, Thomas and Boren at 9.925, and Boren and Thomas for 9.975. AA goes to Thomas at 39.75.

And here we go with the senior presentation. Jenny being classy and giving the Penn State seniors flowers.

Cheney’s clips focused on the way she’s supported the team even despite her own injury and struggles, and showed her return to competition as a senior, setting a career-best 9.825 on vault. The whole family is here to celebrate her.

Boren’s video highlights her steadfast AA performance – 49 consecutive meets in the AA. I can’t even keep up with all the honors it lists: 14-time All-American, All-SEC honors, SEC titles… she’s got so many rings she doesn’t know what to do with them all. She’s apparently seeking a career as a stunt double after earning her Women’s Studies degree! That’s awesome.

That’ll wrap it up here for me from the O-Dome! I have been granted credentials to the SEC Championship in New Orleans in two weeks, so I will see you guys then! And maybe before for a special surprise feature – stay tuned!

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