Gymnastics

WGYM: Thomas, Future Gators Shine in Summer Competition

Photo by Brian Fox / ChompTalk.com

Women’s elite competition heated up this summer as current and future NCAA stars competed at the U.S. Classic, the Pan American Games and the U.S. National Championship. Many Gator Gymnastics commits made waves at these competitions, but current Gator Trinity Thomas achieved what only a handful of women have done before her. She competed at both Classic and Nationals as an elite and NCAA Championships as a student-athlete in the same calendar year, and she won’t defer any of her eligible seasons at Florida to do so, making her accomplishment all the more incredible.

At Classic, Thomas proved she was serious about continuing to train elite, earning 14.2 and 14.0 on bars and beam, respectively. For those not familiar with the elite scoring system, there are two components to an elite score: the difficulty score and the execution score. The difficulty score is calculated by adding up the value of the eight most difficult unique skills competed, plus a flat addition of 2.0 provided the routine meets certain compositional requirements. The execution score, however, is out of a 10.0 like the collegiate scoring system, though deductions are taken with much closer scrutiny. Thomas achieved difficulty scores of 5.5 on bars and 5.6 on beam, numbers equal to or higher than that of many of her competitors, including those who represented the U.S. at the World Championships last year. Long story short, her scores are competitive. This was her announcement that she’s not just training elite for funsies. Trinity Thomas is for real.

Though she only competed bars and beam at the U.S. Classic, Thomas qualified via a national team camp to compete in the all-around at Nationals. Undeterred by not making the Pan American Games team, she continued to upgrade and became only the second person in the history of the sport to perform the Biles on floor, a double layout with a half twist in the second flip. Named after Simone Biles, it’s one of the hardest tumbling passes in the elite code, with only six skills (including Biles’s newsworthy triple-double) valued higher than it. Watch Thomas make the Biles her own – while proudly sporting the Orange and Blue – in the first tumbling pass here.

Thomas finished the two-day meet in ninth overall, higher than multiple Pan Am team members, and was named to the U.S. national team. She is expected to be invited to the Worlds Team Selection Camp next month to compete for five spots at the World Championships, held in Stuttgart, Germany in October. She would have to miss some of her preseason training in Gainesville, but with the support of head coach Jenny Rowland, it is expected Thomas will attend camp to vie for a Worlds berth.

Thomas was not the only elite gymnast you should cheer for as a Florida fan, though. Seniors Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Shilese Jones and Sloane Blakely are all committed to UF, as are juniors Sophia Butler, Kayla DiCello and Olivia Greaves. All competed at Nationals this past weekend with various levels of achievement. Hurd, McCusker, Butler, DiCello and Greaves were all named to the national team (the latter three to the junior team), and Hurd, McCusker and Jones are all expected to attend Worlds Selection Camp. DiCello also competed at the inaugural Junior World Championships held in June, an honor only bestowed on three young gymnasts for each competing country.

Below is a list of the achievements of both senior and junior Florida commits at all four summer competitions with select videos included.

Morgan Hurd: U.S. Classic – 6th AA, 1st UB; Pan Ams – 1st team; U.S. Nationals – 4th AA, 2nd UB

Riley McCusker: U.S. Classic – 2nd AA, T-3rd UB, 2nd BB; Pan Ams – 1st team, 2nd AA, 1st UB, 3rd BB; U.S. Nationals – WD

Shilese Jones: U.S. Classic – 9th AA, 3rd VT; U.S. Nationals – 12th AA

Sloane Blakely: U.S. Classic – 17th AA; U.S. Nationals – only competed 3 events

Kayla DiCello: Junior Worlds – 3rd team, 1st UB, 3rd BB; U.S. Classic – 11th AA, T-3rd UB; U.S. Nationals – 1st AA, 1st VT, T-3rd UB, 1st FX

Olivia Greaves: U.S. Classic – 3rd AA, 1st UB; U.S. Nationals – 3rd AA, 1st UB

Sophia Butler: U.S. Classic – 6th AA, 3rd VT, 3rd FX; U.S. Nationals – 10th AA, 3rd VT

Which of these Gators are you most excited to see in the O-Dome in years to come? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter!

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