Get ready for an epic, historic afternoon, Gator fans – this is the first ever regular season NCAA gymnastics meet to be broadcast on network television! It’s sure to be an exciting tonight as the two SEC champions from last season face off – the Gators holding the regular season title and the Tide with the championship meet title. It’s also Equality Night, as the Gators celebrate unity and inclusiveness across the team and the Gainesville community, and that will be reflected in both messaging during the meet as well as in the team’s attire. Super senior Megan Skaggs has chosen this week as LGBTQ Pride Awareness week for her Tiny Bow Project, supporting The Trevor Project with her sales and platform.
While it’s likely to be a close meet, the first week of competition this season would indicate that Florida should have the upper hand. Its 197.675 was the second-highest score in the nation last week and still stands as the fourth-highest of the season as of just before the meet. Freshman Sloane Blakely earned the first SEC Gymnast of the Week honor of the season, the first freshman to do so in the history of the award, and super senior Alyssa Baumann earned SEC Specialist of the Week, her third such honor of her career. In terms of individual rankings, Florida also has two all-arounders in the top ten, Blakely (No. T-5) and Skaggs (No. 8), while Alabama’s highest-ranked all-arounder is Mati Waligora at No. 17, a full 0.225 below Skaggs. Florida also has at least two individuals in the top 15 on every event, while Alabama only has one each on bars and beam. Alabama does lead the all-time series versus Florida, 75-48-2, but the Tide haven’t defeated the Gators in regular season in the O-Dome since 2001, and not in regular season at all since 2017.
Of course, that’s not to say fans should count Alabama out. The Crimson Tide did look a little rough against Oklahoma in its opening meet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t bounce back as members of the team recover from illness and get back into the gym again. The Tide did steal the SEC Championship out from under both Florida and LSU last year at the last minute, and only lost out on a spot in the NCAA Final last year by 0.025. It’s a team that’s good under pressure, and with all the network cameras and historic firsts happening, this will certainly be a pressure environment.
It all starts at 3:00pm ET on ABC Network this afternoon, but if you don’t have access to a TV, live overseas, or can’t get your family to change the channel so you can watch, we’ve got you covered with a moment-by-moment liveblog that will cover every routine!
Here’s the first video from the Gators on their message for this afternoon:
We will be getting commentary from the best in the business on the broadcast today, Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson Clarke. This meet is going to be electric, y’all.
Nya Reed and Savannah Schoenherr sporting some flags for their respective equality causes – you love to see it!
A few updates I’m being fed from inside the O-Dome: Trinity Thomas and Ellie Lazzari are both warming up on floor after being absent from the lineup last week. Lazzari also warmed up beam. Schoenherr and Leanne Wong both warmed up vault, an especially good sign for the former as she had been spotted in a boot earlier in preseason.
Gabbie Gallentine also warmed up bars, based on some photos just posted on Twitter, so it’s very possible we’ll see lots of lineup shakeups tonight.
Wong instead of Blakely in the AA this week, Skaggs maintaining her slot from last week. Thomas is also reported to be in all events except beam.
3:00pm: I’m being treated to an emergency weather update instead of the start of the meet, because I’m in Virginia instead of Florida, where it happens to be snowing and sleeting today. Send help.
Mom and Dad, of course, are Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson Clarke, our commentators for the afternoon.
3:07pm: It looks like I haven’t missed anything. That’s good.
3:11pm: Finally getting underway!
Skaggs, VT: Yurchenko full (Yfull or FTY), nice and floaty, super straight in the air, little bounce in place. Great start for her!
Gaskins, UB: Short on the first handstand. Ray is solid, but she loses a lot of momentum, pak is also a little wonky. Short on last handstand too, but sticks her DLO dismount!
3:13pm: Edwards, VT: Love to see her returning to this lineup! Yfull, lots of distance, but a sizeable hop back. Pretty clean in the air though, that’s nice.
Waligora, UB: Good first handstand, nice blind change. Jaeger to immediate overshoot, solid. Good last handstand. Full-twisting double layout (FTDLO) dismount, bounce back. Love seeing the difficulty, but the hop kinda negates the benefit.
3:15pm: Schoenherr, VT: Y1.5, comes in short and has to stumble back to stay on her feet, oof. Not how she wanted to return to that lineup.
Adams, UB: Maloney to pak, pretty clean through there. Double tuck dismount, looked like a little hop in place?
3:17pm: Reed, VT: Y1.5, HUGE amplitude and one of her cleaner ones in there air, and just the smallest adjustment on the landing! Wow! One of her best ones yet.
Machado, UB: Good opening handstand. Maloney to pak, some leg sep on the pak salto there. Good handstands on the low bar, and the final one is good too. Double tuck, little slide back as she saluted.
3:19pm: Wong, VT: She’s doing the Podkopayeva! Yurchenko half on, pike half off, lands it a little short, chest down.
Blanco, UB: Maloney to pak salto, cleaner than her previous teammates. Handstands pretty clean throughout, stuck her full in dismount!
3:21pm: Thomas, VT: Y1.5, almost as high and far as Reed, has to swim a little bit but KEEPS IT STUCK AND THEY THROW HER TEN!!!! Trinity Thomas now has a 10.0 on every single event – that’s another Gator Gym Slam!
Doggette, UB: Ray to pak, that’s nice. DLO stuck, good for her to do that while the arena is going crazy.
AFTER ONE: UF 49.35, BAMA 49.175
3:30pm: Adams, VT: Yfull, a little underrotated, has to step forward.
Blakely, UB: Good first handstand. Little leg sep in the Maloney and pak. Good final handstands on the high bar. Double front stuck! This crowd is going CRAZY for her!
3:32pm: Hudson, VT: Yfull, a little bouncy, big step back.
Skaggs, UB: Tkachev to pak, just floats down to the low bar. Looked maybe a hair shy on the final handstand? DLO dismount, tried to hold it on her toes but stepped out of it, covering with her salute.
3:34pm: Olsen, VT: Yurchenko double full (DTY), one of her better ones! Some mushy knees in the air, but good height and distance and her chest is up when she lands. Little slide back.
McCusker, UB: Maloney to pak, legs glued together. Little shy on the first low bar handstand. van Leeuwen is solid. High bar handstands looked good. Double front half out, much better this week! Just a little step back.
3:36pm: Quinn, VT: Y1.5, great distance, big hop forward.
Schoenherr, UB: Let’s see if she can bounce back after vault. Good first handstands. Jaeger, HUGE amplitude. Bail is solid, lands it at 90 degrees. Double front half out, holds that landing in place!
3:38pm: Doggett, VT: Y1.5, wow! Ooh, almost stuck it, but just took a small step back. Still, lovely in the air. Not as big as Reed or Thomas amplitude-wise though.
Thomas, UB: Maloney to pak, solid. van Leeuwen, good. Almost goes over the wrong way on a handstand! Oh boy. She pulls it back though, and dismounted without issue. Whew. Crisis averted.
3:40pm: Graber, VT: Y1.5, big amplitude on that! A little off to the side, a little cross step on the landing.
Wong, UB: Maloney to pak, ooh, big leg separation there. van Leeuwen gets it back. Went big on the last handstand and almost arched it over as well, although not as much as Thomas. Little hop on the dismount.
I’m being told that Blakely’s score being lower than expected may be because she didn’t salute after she finished her routine… but these are some interesting scores…
AFTER TWO: BAMA 98.475, UF 98.325
3:47pm: Spent the rotation break trying to find out what happened with bars scores and I still don’t have a concrete answer, so here we go.
Skaggs, BB: Switch to split, gorgeous. Back handspring to layout stepout (bhs loso), solid. Front aerial, nice and steady. Cat leap to switch side, good shapes there. Side aerial back full, stuck! A great start for the Gators.
Olsen, FX: Piked full in to start, interesting – she used to do a double double. Dance series is nice, good split positions. Moonwalk in the middle of the floor.. and it’s not even good really? Why is that in there? Front tuck through to double tuck, tried to stick it but came in a little short, stepped forward into her finishing choreo. They’ll take that, though, after last week’s floor issues at Oklahoma.
3:51pm: Blakely, BB: She looks so confident in her series, love that. Switch to switch half, so nice. Full turn, steady. Side somi, keeps it in control. Side aerial to back full, looked stuck from here!
Mitchell, FX: Double pike to open, strong and controlled. She’s a performer, loving her choreography and the way she hits the beat. Wolf dance elements were a little off axis but she got them around. Front through to double tuck to finish, a little chest down but popped it up quickly.
3:55pm: Lazzari, BB: Yay! Good to see her back in lineup. Oh noooo, and a fall right off the bat, completely misses the beam on her second layout in her series. Gets back up immediately, almost too soon, and has another little wobble, but the crowd chimes in with a roar for her and she gets it back. Switch to split, good. Finishes the rest of the routine well, and sticks her dismount. Wow. Not the way she wanted to debut this season.
Waligora, FX: Front lay to front double full to start, nice! Another E pass for Bama there. Big bounce out of her second combination pass, but stays in bounds just barely. I normally don’t mind two-pass routines, since it helps keep the athletes healthy, but that did not feel like enough content in a floor routine.
3:59pm: Baumann, BB: The ice queen up next, exactly the right person for the job now. Bhs loso, so solid. Switch to split, lovely positions. Side aerial, balance break and brings her foot off the beam. Eek. Switch half, and another bobble! Nerves are getting to her a little, this is unusual. Roundoff 1.5 stuck! She stayed on, that’s what matters.
Hudson, FX: Front lay to front double full, almost a carbon copy of Waligora before her. Gorgeous dance elements, really like her toe point and the finish on those. 2.5 twist, don’t see a lot of those these days, that was solid. Double tuck to finish her routine, very nice! Another solid outing for the Tide… Florida may need them to crack to get this back.
4:02pm: Wong, BB: Switch to split leap, gorgeous. Bhs loso, nice and steady. Full turn, smooth and clean. Front aerial, snaps those arms down, does not allow a second to worry about a wobble. Side aerial, and a side somi? I don’t think she actually needs all those elements for bonus but good for her! Roundoff double full, don’t know if I buy that stick but Kathy did! She stepped really quickly into her salute.
Blanco, FX: Double pike to open, pointed toes in the air, very nice. Leap series, don’t think I buy that ring position but all her splits were gorgeous. Double tuck, good control in there. Combination pass to finish, steps out of it into an arabesque to cover the fact that she had too much momentum.
4:06pm: Clapper, BB: Looking for one more hit from the Gators here. Bhs loso loso, took it riiiight to the end of the beam but didn’t even flinch, so solid. Switch leap, ooh it’s clear she felt off, pauses and does some choreography to go back to her previous position. Switch to split, that’s better. Sticks her dismount! Good for her, what a veteran.
Graber, FX: I missed her opening pass but from the cheers it sounds like a good one! Aggressive on the dance series, hits all her positions. Front through to double pike, solid control to finish.
AFTER THREE: BAMA 147.775, UF 147.425
Florida is going to need Alabama to make some beam mistakes too in order to pull this one out.
4:17pm: About to start the final rotation!
Burgess, BB: Full turn to start, good. One-arm bhs loso, steady. Nice 180 on the switch side. Switch leap to beat jump, solid. Side aerial back full stuck. Bama showing no sign of weakness so far.
Skaggs, FX: Double wolf turn to open, keeps it in control. Rudi to double stag, very nice. 1.5 to front lay to finish, her form is just so clean. Her choreography is so precise and she just attacks it, I’m so in love with this routine.
4:21pm: Doggette, BB: Bhs loso, steady. Beat jump to switch half, nice toe point in there. Split jump to korbut (bhs swingdown), makes it look really dynamic, that was cool. Little step on her dismount.
Blakely, FX: Double arabian, and she steps out of bounds. That’s probably it for the Gators unless someone from Bama falls. Dance series is fantastic. Double tuck, great control, and she takes a second to breathe. 1.5 to front lay, takes it right to the line, finishes with her ending pose. Strong, just little errors adding up.
4:25pm: Olsen, BB: Bhs loso, little lean to the side but keeps it pretty small. Full turn, fine. Front aerial, strong. Bhs double full, sticks it. Another hit for the Tide.
Baumann, FX: Let’s see how she bounces back after that nervy beam. 1.5 to front full to open, interesting… normally she opens with her more difficult pass to keep her stamina better. Love the dramatic choreo through here. Double pike, ooh, comes in short and stings her ankles. Doesn’t touch the floor, but still will be a heavy deduction.
4:29pm: Hudson, BB: Front aerial to bhs loso, that’s a strong series. Switch to beat jump, she did that really quickly, wow. Side aerial, fine. 1.5 twist, hop forward.
Wong, FX: Triple twist to open! What a beauty! Dance series is nice, lovely toe point and splits. Combination pass is clean, dances out immediately. Double pike to finish, solid control to finish – they NEEDED that. So clutch from the freshman!
4:32pm: Waligora, BB: Big leg up bobble on her series, oop. Side aerial, locks it down. Split jump to tuck jump full, takes a second to secure herself. Roundoff 1.5, hop forward.
Reed, FX: Ok, time to bring the house down, y’all. Opens with her DLO, keeps it to a controlled lunge. Front lay to Rudi, much better control this week, maybe a little foot slide? Nice positions in the dance series, very precise coming out of it. Double pike to finish, absolutely nails it! Finishes with the Gator chomp – will this be her night for the ten??? I personally wouldn’t based on some of the slow mo replays here, but did the judges see those in real time?
4:37pm: Blanco, BB: Has to keep her cool because NYA JUST GOT A PERFECT TEN!!!! Series is super clean, rock solid too. Switch to beat jump, very nice. Roundoff double full and she sticks it! That should be a great score for Bama too.
Thomas, FX: Here we gooooo! Opens with DLO, SKY high and great control on the landing. Front full front lay, lovely. Double pike, a little overcooked but keeps it in bounds and didn’t bring her front foot off the floor. ABC is saying Florida needs a 9.95 to win, and based on my calculations on the live scoring page, that is correct…
SHE GOT ANOTHER TEN! HOLY COW!
FINAL: UF 197.0, BAMA 196.925
Your event winners from tonight: Thomas on vault with her perfect 10.0, Blanco and Doggette on bars with 9.925s, Blanco on beam with a 9.95, and Thomas and Reed on floor with their perfect 10.0s. And Skaggs wins the all-around with a 39.525!
Join me on my Twitter @mycluttereddesk for post-meet press conference quotes in just a few minutes!