Tonight, the Gator gymnasts take on Arkansas, looking to continue their winning streak. Florida has toppled two formidable SEC opponents so far this season in Auburn and Georgia, and though Arkansas has looked close to an upset against its past two opponents, it hasn’t been able to seal the deal, so it’s likely to become Florida’s third victim.
Last week was a step back for the Gators in some aspects, and a step forward in others, but overall, they’re still No. 1 in the nation. Junior Nya Reed won her second consecutive Specialist of the Week honor in the SEC, and despite a fall last week, classmate Trinity Thomas is still ranked in the top 10 on vault and bars and No. 13 in the all-around. Other standout routines to look for include Megan Skaggs on vault, Savannah Schoenherr on bars, Ellie Lazzari on beam, and Payton Richards on floor, though choosing one routine for each event is almost impossible considering the strength and depth of this team. Alyssa Baumann, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, and Leah Clapper will also be standouts on several events.
Arkansas, too, has athletes in the top 10 on vault and bars, as well as floor, so expect them to put a fight. Highlights will come from Amanda Elswick and Sarah Shaffer on vault, Maggie O’Hara on bars, and Sophia Carter on floor, and Kennedy Hambrick will be Thomas’s main competition in the all-around. The Gymbacks are led by second-year head coach and 2012 Olympian Jordyn Wieber, with 2016 Olympian Chris Brooks and former Nebraska standout Catelyn Orel on her staff, so the training pedigree is equally as high as that of the Gators. Expect big things out of this team – they’ve been close to upsetting LSU at both back-to-back meets with the Tigers, but don’t expect it to happen this week against the Gators.
7:57pm: Just waiting for the broadcast to start! Glad we were able to get video for this – big thanks to Sydney McGlone and whatever other powers that be were involved in getting this on SECN+ tonight!
8:02pm: Finally! Getting underway in Barnhill.
Pennese, VT: FTY, weirdly off to the side, but lovely height, step back.
Richards, UB: A little form is funky in the Maloney to bail, she’s still working that back. DLO has some leg sep, just rides the elevator up and down in place on the mat.
8:04pm: Johnston, VT: FTY, some leg sep, college stick but showed little control as she stepped back into her salute.
Gallentine, UB: first handstands are good, legs glued together in Maloney, pak is good. Last handstand is good, DLO good, step back. Glad to see her staying in this lineup.
8:06pm: Olszewski, VT: FTY, good amplitude, little shuffle back.
Skaggs, UB: Looks like we’re leaving Lazzari out again. Hmm. Tkachev to pak, good. Lovely last handstand! DLO, a little soft and slow to rotate, leg sep, slide back. Not her best.
Skaggs in the AA tonight according to commentator McGlone!
8:08pm: Shaffer, VT: Yhalf, less common. Gorgeous form in the air, a little hop to the side.
Schoenherr, UB: Great first handstand and blindchange. Jaeger is a little closer than usual maybe, bail is great. Gorgeous last handstand. Double front half out, tried to fight for the stick but hopped forward.
8:10pm: Hambrick, VT: Y1.5, kinda off kilter and too high on her block, had to stagger backward to stay on her feet.
Thomas, UB: Lovely first handstand, Maloney to uprise is great. Pak had a little leg sep. Good low bar work, van Leeuwen is great. Last handstand is great. DLO STUCK! A queen. Team chanting for a 10.
8:12pm: Elswick, VT: FTY, floats it and sticks it, wow! Really fought for it.
Clapper, UB: Commentator is saying Lazzari but McGlone corrects him. Good handstand work, releases are good. Giant full is better this week. Double tuck is stuck! Her best bar routine in college so far.
8:14pm: Hickey, VT exh: FTY, another off to the side, big hop back. Nice form though.
Lazzari, UB: Not sure why she’s not in the lineup and is exhibiting instead, but oh well. Tkachev is great. Pak a little funky but masked it well. Great last handstands, and only the double tuck dismount, that must be why she’s not in lineup.
AFTER ONE: UF 49.4, ARK 49.2
Thomas leads for the bars title at 9.975, and Johnston leads the vault standings with 9.875.
8:21pm: Richards, VT: Still just the FTY, lovely form, little bounce on the landing. Good start for the Gators.
Lovett, UB: Enormous Ray, wow! Bail didn’t make it all the way to handstand. Great last handstand and giant full though. Open double tuck dismount stuck! A great start for Arkansas too.
8:23pm: Lazzari, VT: FTY, gorgeous form in the air. Missed the landing and they didn’t replay it for whatever reason.
Gianfagna, UB: Good first handstand. Ray to immediate shootover, avoids the handstand issue but I hate how it looks. Short on last handstand. Full in is stuck! Arkansas working on those landings, man.
8:25pm: Skaggs, VT: FTY, little leg sep as she flares out, little slide back. Still will be a good score.
Scalzo, UB: Releases were good but double tuck dismount, legs buckle and she sits her dismount.
8:27pm: Schoenherr, VT: Y1.5, just the smallllest of shuffles, but a GREAT showing for her. Legs just glued together in the air, less knee bend than usual for her too.
Shaffer, UB: Lovely first handstand work. Big Maloney, bail hits handstand fine. Last handstand looked a hair short from this angle but it’s not a good angle. DLO, slide back. A good reset for them, she’s a rock for them on this event.
8:29pm: Reed, VT: Y1.5, big step forward, looked like she chucked it more this week than last. Would rather her overdo it than underdo it, but it won’t be as good as last week.
Hambrick, UB: Good first handstand. Piked Jaeger maybe a little conservative straight to overshoot, which is fine I guess. Full in stuck! Good for her.
8:31pm: Thomas, VT: Y1.5, just a slide forward. Still working on dialing that in.
O’Hara, UB: Jaeger is lovely. Bail is dead on. Great last handstand! DLO stuck cold, so glad to see her thriving here at Arkansas.
8:32pm: No exh for Florida on vault, hmm.
Rutz, UB exh: Rushed a first handstand. Tkachev was good. Short on her clear hip, bail a little loose. Good last handstand. Double tuck slide back, a good backup in the arsenal for them.
AFTER TWO: UF 98.775, ARK 98.525
Surprisingly close going into the second half of the meet. Schoenherr will take the vault title with a huge 9.95! And Thomas maintains her grip on the bars title at 9.975.
Okay, y’all, time to light your prayer candles to make sure this next tweet doesn’t continue into our meet:
They’re referring to several high-profile meets across the country tonight where top-ranked teams have had to count falls on beam and floor very uncharacteristically. Hoping for a clean meet for both teams here in Barnhill.
8:39pm: Here we go with the third!
Gianfagna, BB: Bhs loso, solid. Full turn from standing, such a weird technique but she works it. Cat leap to front toss, a little hesitation there between elements. Beat to straddle half, fine. Roundoff 1.5, just slides her feet together.
8:41pm: Skaggs, FX: YES! So excited to see her back. She’s using her routine from sophomore year, which I adored. Rudi to split jump, biiiig air and little bouncy on landing. Love showcasing her flexibility and lines in the dance her. Split positions are gorgeous as usual. 1.5 to front lay, great control. She’s so happy! I’m so happy for her, that’s a great return to this event after nearly two years.
8:43pm: Lovett, BB: Candle mount! Love! Full turn is gorgeous. Switch to split, good. Front aerial to loso, a little hesitation in between and a small bobble on landing. Side aerial back full stuck! Good for her to fight for every tenth in there.
8:45pm: Richards, FX: Big cheers for AC/DC from the few fans here. DLO, legs a little loose but keeps control of it. A little piked at the end in slow mo. 1.5 to front lay, dances right out. Good positions on her dance elements. Double tuck to finish, well controlled lunge. Another strong showing!
8:47pm: O’Hara, BB: Side aerial bhs, that’s a fun series and she nails it. Split to ring stag, pretty! Backward shoulder roll, ooh!. Cat leap side aerial back full!
8:49pm: Johnson-Scharpf, FX: double arabian, great control out of that. 1.5 to front lay, a little whippy but stays in control. Great splits in switch to Popa and shushunova. Bringing the drama in this choreo section. Double tuck to finish, maybe a liiiittle short but covers well. She has so much energy finishing she can barely hold her finishing pose!
8:51pm: Shaffer, BB: Switch to straddle 1/4, little arm swing but keeping it small. Bhs loso, a little lean to the side but hangs onto it with just the smallest adjustment. Front aerial, another little bobble. Full turn, solid. Cat leap to side aerial back full, little shuffle. I know she can get really nervy on beam from past interviews with her, so this is great to see.
8:53pm: Taylor, FX: Baumann is a scratch??? I’m concerned. Double tuck to open for Taylor, very clean. Combo pass is good, she’s handling this really well for a last minute addition. Split positions were good in dance elements. Double pike, a few steps back there but stayed in bounds from what I could see.
8:55pm: Carter, BB: Bhs loso, leans to the side, doesn’t dip her shoulder though, good for her. Beat to ring stag, gorgeous. Front aerial to sissone, nice. Full turn is gorgeous, no hesitation going into it either. Side aerial back full stuck!
8:57pm: Reed, FX: DLO is huge and perfectly controlled into that lunge. Front lay to Rudi, a good fight but I see a liiiittle foot slide. Split and wolf positions are perfect in dance elements. Killing it out there in this choreo section. Double pike to close, so well controlled that she can immediately come out of the lunge into her dance. Another stellar routine for her!
8:58pm: Hambrick, BB: Bhs loso, solid, that’s nice to see. Switch to switch half, hesitations in strange places, almost waited in the air at one point. Split to straddle 3/4, solid. Full turn is good. Cartwheel gainer full stuck!
9:00pm: Thomas, FX: DLO, knew exactly where she was in the air and jumped out into the lunge instead of stepping back. Front full to front lay to stag, gorgeous control. Tour jete to straddle full, gorgeous oversplits everywhere. Overcooks the double pike and it’s bouncy, luckily keeps it in bounds this week.
9:02pm: Johnston, BB exh: Balance check on her series, but she fights for it. Switch to switch half, good not great. Roundoff 1.5 stuck!
AFTER THREE: ARK 147.875, UF 147.825
Not sure how Florida slipped behind by 0.05, but here we are. Hoping that scoring stays fair across the board, and that Baumann is fine despite being scratched from floor.
AFTER THREE (adjusted): UF 148.0, ARK 147.875
O’Hara currently leads beam with a 9.925, and Reed leads floor with the same score.
This is indeed what happened, as the amount Florida’s score increased is the difference between Taylor and Thomas’s scores.
9:09pm: Fourth rotation let’s go!
Richards, BB: Full turn, a little unsteady but fine. Bhs loso loso, she looked off from this angle but if she was, she corrected well. Switch to straddle, solid. Side aerial to back full, went off to the side and stepped behind herself to steady herself. Saved that.
9:10pm: Johnston, FX: Double tuck to start, great height and control. Whip half to front full, that’s fun, and dances right out. Gorgeous positions in her dance elements. A little short on the double pike but covers well, and finishes using the same pose as her coach Jordyn Wieber used in the 2012 Olympics. Brb crying, this is adorable!
9:12pm: Johnson-Scharpf, BB: I just adore the confident attitude she approaches the beam with. Punch front, small adjustment there. Bhs loso, break at the hips but doesn’t bend her shoulders down. Full turn is fine. Switch half to beat, solid. Handstands to loso back full, stuck! Love it!
9:14pm: Hickey, FX: Oooh, love the drama this starts with. Double pike to open, big lunge back. Straddle positions are good in the air. 1.5 to front lay, a little crooked but lands it cleanly. Fun choreo in here! Double tuck, a little crunchy looking in the front ankle, but a solid performance overall.
9:16pm: Lazzari, BB: Bhs loso loso, SO solid. Switch to split, can’t see her back leg from this angle. Front aerial, little arm swing but didn’t bobble. Full turn, good. Side aerial back full, shuffle back. Another great one for her, that should keep her in the top 10 this week.
9:18pm: Lovett, FX: DLO, just a little shuffle back, no lunge. Punch front lay to front full, dances right out. Lovely splits! Double back, good control. Calypso turn, love that, and she’s so stoked. A great routine for her!
9:20pm: Skaggs, BB: LOVE seeing her back in this lineup. Single wolf, great. Switch to split, gorgeous toe point and great 180 position. Bhs loso, super steady. Front aerial, little bobble at the hips but keeps it small. Cat leap switch side, good. Sider aerial back full STUCK! What a strong AA showing from her tonight, I’m so glad to see her back on all four.
9:22pm: Hambrick, FX: Double tuck, great amplitude and solid control. Rudi to back layout to stag, lots of bounce but comes down pretty controlled. Not as much amplitude in that second straddle as I normally expect from her. Double pike stuck COLD but looked like a little crunchy on the ankles. They are fighting for this one!
9:24pm: Baumann, BB: Good to see she’s okay! Bhs loso, nails it. Switch to split, perfect positions in the air. Front aerial, no hesitation. Full turn, great. Switch half, so solid. Roundoff 1.5, college sticks it but I think the judges will see through it.
9:26pm: Carter, FX: Double tuck, little short, tried to open too early to stick and ended up crunching her chest down. 1.5 to front full STUCK wow. Switch to split full, gorgeous splits there. Showcasing flexibility and showmanship throughout this choreo section, love. Double pike to close, chest a little low but overall an electric routine.
9:28pm: Thomas, BB: Switch to split leap to open, but she’s ditched the switch leap mount. One arm bhs loso, breaks at the hips and grabs the beam. Stays on but she’s gotten in her head, damn. Korbut is good. Finishes it out cleanly but that opens the door.
9:30pm: Pennese, FX: Rudi to straddle to front tuck, that’s a fun pass! Second pass a little crooked and skids a little on the landing. Love the worm and the creative choreo in this section. A little short on the double tuck last pass, but good for her for stepping in for Shaffer last minute.
FINAL: UF 197.425, ARK 197.25
Megan Skaggs will win the beam title! With a massive 9.95! Lovett and Reed will tie for floor with 9.925s. And in her first AA appearance in nearly two years, SKAGGS wins the All-Around! She scored a stellar 39.5 – that sounds like she’ll be doing AA more this year.
Thanks everyone for joining me tonight! I have a few questions to hopefully ask in media availability later this weekend or next week, so make sure you follow me on Twitter @mycluttereddesk to see when I’m taking question suggestions! See you all next week for Missouri at Florida, 7pm on SECN.