Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back! Welcome back, Gators and gym fans alike, to LIVE gymnastics coverage! We’re so excited to be able to bring this to you once again this year, albeit from a broadcast rather than the arena itself.
Tonight, the Gators face off at Auburn in the first of a two-meet series this season, as the SEC is limiting its member teams to conference-only play to decrease potential exposure to COVID-19. The Tigers will come to Gainesville at the end of regular season, but for now, Florida is on their territory to kick off 2021.
Auburn lost one of its biggest and most impactful classes as of late this year, with the losses of three-eventers Gracie Day and Skylar Sheppard and beam/floor mainstay Emma Slappey being felt the most of the five-member class of 2020. However, the team did have some solid depth last season, and it brings in a class of new freshmen featuring two former elites – Brooke Butler and Olivia Hollingsworth – that look to make a big splash in their debuts.
But there’s a reason Florida is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Though they, too, graduated a large and important class in 2020, the Gators also bring in two solid former elites to their freshman class, adding to the already very competitive depth in last year’s team. It will be a fight to make lineups just as much this year as it was last, and these athletes are hungry for it. They have unfinished business they’re ready to put to rest, and this is where they set the tone for the season to come.
7:56pm: Welcome back, y’all! This is the first time I’ll be liveblogging with my nails done, so bear with me if there are more typos or delays than usual – ha! I’ve got my SECN+ loaded up on the Roku here at the house, so count on me for all the updates you need tonight.
8:00pm: Here we go! I can’t believe we’re watching actual gymnastics again after so long. I’m still super trepidatious about even having season, but I’m simultaneously so happy my sport is back!
8:03pm: Olivia Hollingsworth, Aub VT: SO excited to see her NCAA debut! FTY, gorgeous and high, but hop on the landing. She’ll look to control that in the coming weeks.
Skaggs, UB: floaty Tkachev to pak, not as aggressive as I’ve seen in the past, but still good. DLO dismount is weird, I think she pinged off early or held on too long? Big leg sep, stumbled back. An unusual start for her, but could’ve been much worse.
8:04pm: P Smith, VT: FTY, not as much distance as Hollingsworth, but smaller hop on the landing.
Gallentine, UB: Stoked to see her debut too! Ooh, she’s already having a little trouble, but when she finally gets the Maloney off, it’s good, and she swings back into the pak nicely. DLO, her knees buckle on the landing… this is not how the Gators want to start.
8:06pm: Sabados, VT: Another FTY, another hop on the landing, but she’s definitely more interested in dialing in the landing than anyone else so far. A little piked in the slow mo.
Lazzari, UB: Another freshman debut! Ahhh yay! First handstand a little shy, but Tkachev is good. Next handstand much better. Pak is good. Great last handstand! Full in dismount, a little slow on rotation and she has to step back to catch herself on the landing. Starting to go in the right direction though!
8:08pm: Stevens, VT: Lovely and clean legs and feet in her FTY, but block was a little off, so had to pike it down a little at the end and hop back.
Schoenherr, UB: Long wait before starting. Blind change to Jaeger is lovely. Bail straight on, gorgeous toes. Great last handstand. Little hop on the landing for her double front half out dismount, but this is more like it for the Gators.
8:11pm: Watson, VT: Y1.5, comes in a little short and has to step back. She’s a little off kilter too. That’s a shame, her vault is normally great.
Thomas, UB: Maloney to uprise, good. Pak is solid, doesn’t connect it directly to the van Leeuwen though, I think that was a mistake but she covered it super well. DLO dismount, knees a little soft and stepped forward. Still, a great outing.
8:13pm: Gobourne, VT: Y1.5, again a little short, had to slide her feet back under her. Not her usual big distance either, but it’s still early season.
Clapper, UB: This is an interesting strategy… I’ll talk about my thoughts later though. Good first handstand. Blind change to piked Jaeger, lovely legs. Bail, almost goes over the wrong way but kept it tight. Good last handstand, giant full to double tuck and she stuck it.
8:15pm: Exhibitions for both teams!
Oldham, VT: FTY, little close to the table.
Clark, UB: Love that she’s getting this chance to compete! Gienger, leg sep but decent amplitude. Bail a little soft in the legs. DLO dismount, step forward. Good for her to get out there and try that.
Brusch, VT: biiiig FTY, but big hop back. She’ll look to control that and get in that lineup soon, I’d imagine.
AFTER ONE: AUB 49.1, UF 49.05
It’s a surprisingly close meet so far, but it’s still early. I’m incredibly perplexed in terms of what the bars lineup order is and why… but unfortunately, I won’t have an opportunity to ask the coaches tonight. Maybe I’ll tweet Owen and ask tomorrow, haha. She did pull through with the only stuck landing though, soooo can’t be that mad.
8:25pm: Richards, VT: Leading off since she’s just doing the FTY right now. Asst coach Adrian Burde said this is just a pacing thing, because of all the time off last year. She’ll be back to the Y1.5 soon.
FTY is super clean, and looked stuck to me?? Adrian’s celebrating like it is!
Sumner, UB: Tkachev looked good. Pak had a little leg sep but nothing egregious. Pirouette on low bar was off. Small step on that dismount, but a better start than the Gators had last rotation.
8:27pm: Lazzari, VT: Great to see her on vault after being in a boot not long ago. Lovely extension through her FTY, just a small hop back. Great amplitude and body position, too. She gets a 9.9!!!
P Smith, UB: Didn’t see what happened but she hopped off after a transition to low bar. I feel like she took way more time than she was supposed to, this might be another Alyona situation from last year. Maloney to pak was good. DLO dismount was mushy in the knees, big lunge forward.
8:30pm: Skaggs, VT: FTY, STUCK! Let’s go Skaggsy! And gorgeous body position to boot. A queen. If Lazzari went 9.9, that should be 9.95 easy.
Sabados, UB: Tkachev nice and high. Good handstands after. Bail a little shy of handstand, but final handstand is good. DLO, bounce back.
8:33pm: Schoenherr, VT: Y1.5, went for the stick too hard and had to slide back a little. Nice in the air though, slight knee bend as she came in for the landing.
Stevens, UB: Good first handstand. Flexed feet on the Tkachev. Bail looked fine. Last handstand a little shy? DLO, a shuffle or a bounce in place but very small foot movement. Yeah, slow mo showed her right foot moved slightly.
8:35pm: Reed, VT: HUGE distance on her Y1.5 but low on amplitude, little itty bitty slide on the landing.
Brusch, UB: Transition set is good. Great last handstand! DLO dismount, a little hop on the landing. I love that she’s getting so much lineup time.
8:37pm: Thomas, VT: Y1.5, gorrrrgeous and it’s STUCK! WOW! She dialed that in. 9.975, guess they won’t throw the 10.0 the first meet out.
Gobourne, UB: Hiiigh Tkachev, straight to pak, nice. Stuck her dismount! Answers right back, well done.
8:39pm: Exhibition time!
Johnson-Scharpf, VT: FTY, a little off to the side, small hop.
McLaughlin, UB: Great first handstand, little leg sep going into the Maloney, and another in the pak. Good last handstand. Just a double tuck dismount, I’d guess that’s why she’s not in the lineup.
Baumann, VT: FTY, big bounce. Maybe training just the full now to try and get into AA sooner? Hard to say.
Sylvia, UB: Good to see her getting time on another event, normally she’s just a beamer. Good first handstand, Tkachev is low and she misses her hands, ends up sitting on the edge of the mat. Restarts, doesn’t reattempt the Tkachev. Bail is good, last handstand short. Toe on front tuck dismount, that’s a fun one. Little step from what I saw.
AFTER TWO: UF 98.6, AUB 98.1
I think my thoughts about this rotation are best summed up as follows….
I’m not mad, though, just super unexpected. This vault lineup is what I fully expected based on our coaches’ panel earlier this week, although I had crossed my fingers for Baumann’s Y1.5. But we’ll see how the season goes.
Thomas will earn the crown on vault with her 9.975, and Gobourne will take bars with her 9.9.
8:52pm: Watson, BB: full turn, great to get that out of the way. Bhs loso, a little stutter after but doesn’t check her balance. Cat leap to side aerial, brings her leg down strange to try and keep herself from losing her balance. Switch leap to split quarter, don’t think that last one hit 180 completely. Roundoff 1.5, hop forward and off to the side. A good start though, she might be a good choice for leadoff if she’s got her nerves under control.
8:54pm: Clapper, FX: Wow, cool to see her in this slot! Good for her. I love that she’s a little sassier this year. Double back to start, goes OOB just a bit. 1.5 to front lay, has to whip it around a little to get to the stag leap out. Leaps are good, good positions. Double pike to close, chest a little low maybe but the form was good, and it didn’t seem like she was out of steam. Good for her!
8:56pm: Brusch, BB: Front aerial to split jump, great. Bhs loso, dead on. Switch leap to back pike, leap was a little shy of 180 and had a little check on the pike landing. Gainer full off the side, looked stuck to me!
8:58pm: Richards, FX: And here comes the rock music! AC/DC to start, and the DLO! Gorgeous, controlled lunge back. 1.5 to front lay, great control there. Split positions looked good… hmm in slow mo, the second straddle doesn’t look fully 180. Tom Petty music now, Gator chomp on where the “won’t back down” lyric would go. Final pass a little short, probably just still building that stamina.
9pm: Sylvia, BB: Love her beam work, this should be good. Lovely full turn, Front aerial to bhs bhs, straight on. Switch to sheep, sheep was typical NCAA, head not thrown back all the way. Korbut (bhs swingdown), and she falls?? That’s so strange, I’ve never seen her do that. Cartwheel gainer full, bounce in place I think.
9:02pm: Johnson-Scharpf, FX: Double arabian to start, WAAAY better than last year. 1.5 to front lay, dances right out. Love the choreo in this segment. Switch to Shushunova is good. Rushing a little maybe in the Gator chomp dance sequence? Double back to finish, a little short and on her toes, shuffles forward. A solid first outing for her though.
9:04pm: Gobourne, BB: Bhs loso, right down the beam, good. Full turn is okay. Cat leap to side aerial, breaks at the hips but stays on. Beat, switch side, smiles as she regains her confidence. Roundoff double full, looked like a little bounce in place to me. Slow mo shows she does move her left foot, yeah. Still, a good recovery.
9:06pm: Baumann, FX: I love that she’s kept some of this opening choreo from last year, so good. Very open double tuck to start, you know she’s working that DLO to come soon. 1.5 to front full, good control. Choreo in this segment intended to get the crowd going, clearly will do that in the O-Dome. Gorgeous leaps as always. Double pike to finish, knees buckle underneath her! She falls and goes OOB. Slow mo looks like she hung on too long… she looks okay? I think. I hope.
9:08pm: McLaughlin, BB: Was focused on Alyssa so I missed the beginning of this. Side aerial to split, gorgeous position in the air. Gainer pike, hop forward. A great routine from what I can tell!
9:10pm: Reed, FX: A wait for her as they decide on Baumann’s score situation. She assumes that character immediately when she hits the floor, I love it. Here we go! Choreo is revving up as the music does. DLO, GREAT control on the landing and fab amplitude as always. Front lay to Rudi, she’s cleaned those legs up this year, nice. Good amplitude on her leaps. Sass and hair twirling in this sequence, love it. Double pike, NAILS it. She should absolutely get a 10 this year.
9:12pm: Stevens, BB: Acro series is solid. Cat leap to switch ring… that ring is not a ring. That needs to go. Front toss to knee, bobbled a little bit but held it. Single wolf, good. Roundoff 1.5 to dismount, small hop. Beam not the strongest event for Auburn, but they made it through.
9:14pm: Thomas, FX: Here we go, y’all. DLO to open, front foot stays planted, yes. Front full front lay to immediate split jump, looked like she almost lost control of that split but she didn’t go OOB. Great split positions. Not only does the oversplit in her choreo like she’s done for two years, but does a pushup in that position! Crazy flexible! Double pike, almost overcooks it a little, rotates it very quickly. but slides the front foot on the landing. Still will be an excellent score.
9:16pm: Time for exhibitions!
Oldham, BB: Bhs loso, bent knees and she falls. I missed something as she got back up… Cat leap to switch side, good. Rondoff 1.5 looked stuck to me! She’s a great depth option for them, hopefully this helps with her confidence.
Taylor, FX: Yes! Love to see her getting the nod here. Double back to start, tons of power and she slides a little on the landing. 1.5 to front lay to stag, has to whip the front lay around like Clapper did. Switch side to Popa, good straddle positions. Double pike and she doesn’t make it, ends up on her knees just in front of the sting mat. Still working on stamina and run pattern, I’d guess.
P Smith, BB: Beyonce for her beam music, love it. Bhs loso, tries to save it but falls. Gets right back up though and is still performing pretty confidently, good for her. Switch to switch half, definitely does not make 180 on the half. Needle scale, lovely. Bhs 1.5, little hop to the side.
AFTER THREE: UF 147.9, AUB 147.075
Some kinks to still work out on floor, but it’s the first meet of the year, so that shouldn’t faze anyone too much. Looking forward to Lazzari making that lineup once her Achilles feels up to it, and would love to see Skaggs or Schoenherr get a chance. But Clapper did a great job, and I’m not mad at her being leadoff. It seems to work for her so far, at least.
9:28pm: Richards, BB: Love that she’s leading off here! Full turn, good. Bhs loso loso, great triple series, and dead on. Switch to split, a little tight on those positions. Side aerial back full, little hop to the side.
9:30pm: Hollingsworth, FX: Full in to start! A little low, but hard to tell how low from the angle they used. Split positions lovely. Choreo in the middle is… a little boring for me, especially after Florida. Punch front to double tuck, almost goes OOB but I think she stayed in. Yeah, slow mo confirms. Only a two pass routine, but a good start.
9:32pm: Johnson-Scharpf, BB: Punch front to start, solid. Bhs loso, front foot comes up but she doesn’t bobble. Switch half to beat, lovely. Handstand to loso to back full, what a fun dismount series, I love her unique skillset in this routine.
9:34pm: Watson, FX: Double pike to open, saving her E pass for later in the season. Leaps look great. Some drama here in this routine. 1.5 to front lay, good control and good rise on the second element. Ooh, some Eye of the Tiger remix in here, I like. Double tuck to close, chest low but masks well. Another solid routine.
9:36pm: Lazzari, BB: A triple series for her as well, yes! Switch to split, lovely positions in the air. She looks super poised and confident up there… and just as I say that, she hesitates landing her front aerial. Keeps it small though. Full turn, good. Side aerial to back full stuck!! How’s that for a freshman debut? Good for her!
9:38pm: Sabados, FX: Had to roll out of her first pass, underrotated. 1.5 to front lay, a little whippy. If there was a third pass I missed it? Sorry, husband came upstairs.
9:40pm: Clapper, BB: Bhs loso loso, breaks at the hips but stays on. Switch to split, lovely positions and good toe point. Side aerial back full, stuck! Good for her for staying on.
9:42pm: Stevens, FX: Punch layout to Rudi, a little flexed feet but gets it around fine. Switch ring is better here than on beam but still not great? Double tuck to finish, a little low chest and cowboyed it a little to pull it around, as the slow mo demonstrated.
9:44pm: Baumann, BB: Good to see she’s up to this after the floor fall. Bhs loso, flicks those arms down defiantly. Switch to split, gorgeous as always. Front aerial, baby balance check but covers well. Switch half, easily the best tonight from either team. Roundoff 1.5, stuck! Great redemption for her, she should feel good about that.
9:46pm: Brusch, FX: Opens with a big double tuck, clearly training something bigger. She’s the most entertaining dancer thus far in the Tigers’ lineup. Goes for her double salto pass, does the 1.5 and then runs out of it, holding her shoulder. Goes back into her choreo though, must not be serious. Double pike, short and lunges forward. She’ll get a major deduction for not having a two-salto pass though. Hope her shoulder’s okay!
9:48pm: Thomas, BB: Split jump mount, gorgeous. She’s so focused, I love this. One handed bhs to loso, no doubt there. Front aerial to beat to korbut, right on. Side aerial back full, little foot adjustment it looked like, though the team is calling for a 10 briefly.
9:50pm: Gobourne, FX: Was that a double tuck or full in to start? Terrible angle, but great landing either way, and she is bringing the fun! I love how she’s playing to the crowd here. Front full to front lay, good control. She hits so many little moments in this music, I’m obsessed. Double pike to close, great height and a solid landing. Walking off with the crown hands, yes.
9:52pm: Skaggs, BB exhibition: She’s so cool and collected on beam, I want her back in this lineup so badly. Series was great. Front aerial good. Cat leap to switch side, solid. Side aerial back full, stuck?? I think so!
Aaaaaaaand they stopped the broadcast, so we won’t get to see any further exhibitions if there are any.
FINAL SCORE: UF 197.5, AUB 195.725
Definitely some things for the Gators to work on in the coming weeks, but a strong start – the strongest, in fact, as this is the highest score for a season opener in program history!
Thanks for joining me tonight! Stay tuned for a full recap later this weekend, but in the meantime, stay glued to SECN and watch all the meets – celebrate gymnastics being back!