In the final meet of the regular season, the Gators visit an old friend in a quad meet they should win pretty handily. Tonight’s meet at North Carolina State will also feature No. 44 Rutgers and No. 52 Pennsylvania.
Over the years, Florida and NC State have met 31 times, making them a pretty frequent out-of-conference opponent. NCSU super-senior Nicole Webb transferred there from Florida a few years ago, so this will be a final reunion for her and some of her former teammates, especially good friend and fellow fifth-year Alyssa Baumann.
Rutgers and Pennsylvania don’t often make their way to Gainesville though, or vice versa. This will mark the historic first meeting between Florida and Penn, while the Scarlet Knights and Gators will meet for only the fifth time ever this evening.
The Gators are already in a great position NQS-wise, but with a 198.125 or better, they can at least tie the Sooners for that coveted No. 1 ranking. Nya Reed is already ranked No. 1 in the nation on floor, and if she’s in the lineup tonight, you can bet she’ll be bringing the fire. Several other floor workers – Leanne Wong and Sloane Blakely in particular – have a great opportunity to improve their ranking as well with an additional strong score tonight, and if Thomas competes floor tonight, she’ll finally have enough scores to earn an NQS as well. Baumann will also look to improve her NQS on beam, where she still has a 9.85 away score she can drop. And for the first time in a long time, the Gators have no all-arounders with an NQS yet, due to the rotating lineup strategy coach Jenny Rowland has been using this season to keep athletes healthy. Blakely, Wong, and Megan Skaggs could all finally notch the last AA score they need to be ranked next week if they compete all four tonight.
We are LIVE in the arena tonight at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, so we are thrilled to be bringing you more up close and personal action than we have in a long time! There’s a surprising amount of orange and blue in here, and it’s still an hour before the meet, so I can’t wait to see what it looks like at 7 o’clock.
Some important sightings already: Savannah Schoenherr was spotted warming up floor, Bri Edwards on vault, and Gabbie Gallentine on bars, so don’t be surprised to see the Gators mixing it up in the lineups again tonight.
6:41pm: Hey everyone! Warmups have finished and the teams are putting the finishing touches on their meet looks! I should have lineups in just a very few minutes, but as long as the meet is the same order as warmups were, the Gators will be starting on floor.
Clark also warming up her tumbling – maybe we’ll get exhibitions tonight??
Diaz, NCSU VT: Yfull, little bounce. Looked good but hard to see landings from here.
Clapper, FX: Rudi to back handspring to open, I saw her warming that up and wondered if it was a mistake, but looked intentional this time. Second combo pass looked good as well. Switch side to Popa was lovely. Double pike to finish, just stepped OOB! Ouch. Bummer ending for a good routine.
Anand, VT: Front handspring front pike, little hop.
Belkoff went for Penn on BB for 9.625, Hughes for Rutgers on bars for 8.85.
Ortega, VT: FTY, a little pike in the hips, hop back.
7:05pm: Richards, FX: DLO to open, little hop but just kept it in bounds! She’s improved so much as a performer since her freshman year, she’s such a joy to watch. Triple dance series looked good, wolf maybe a little off axis but gets it around fine. 1.5 to front lay to finish, little stutter step forward, but the team goes crazy for her.
Rutherford, VT: Yfull, little slide.
Think it’s Debarberle on beam, she just hit a lovely series.
7:08: Skaggs, FX: Double wolf is gorgeous! Rudi to double stag, well controlled. Love this choreo section, so precise and hits with every beat in the music. Dance series is clean, directly in the middle of the floor so all eyes are on her. 1.5 to front lay, just a single step forward. Another great one for the Gators!
Lehman, VT: Yhalf, little adjustment on the landing.
Pringle, Rutgers UB: Gorgeous piked Jaeger on bars, bail a little short of handstand. Great final handstand, DLO dismount… couldn’t see anything about it since the team was in the way, oh well.
Shepard, VT: Yfull, nice body position in the air! Looked maybe stuck from here but hard to see.
7:11pm: Baumann, FX: Immediately bringing the drama from the moment she steps on the floor. Always. 1.5 to front full, very casual single step out of it, into her choreo. Great dance series. Double pike to close, one of her better ones! Gator chomp at the end sends the crowd into a FRENZY and Field starts to hype them up even further. God, I’ve missed this.
Joyner, UB: Jaeger, a little feet but nice. Bail was solid. Short of final handstand. Dismount looked stuck from here!
Kistner hit a solid vault while Baumann was going, just couldn’t see it from here.
A fall from Penn on beam, think this is Marr?
Balser, UB: Release was good, bail a little loose. FTDLO dismount! A little close to the bar and a little piked at the end, but love to see the difficulty from Rutgers!
7:14pm: Wong, FX: Triple full, maybe not as clean in the legs as we’ve seen, but well controlled on the landing. Dance series is lovely. Whip half front full, takes out the stag jump this week, that was a smart choice I think. Double pike to finish, just the single step lunge out of it. Burde SCREAMS a “yes!” behind me and I’m sure did his signature fist pump – he’s obviously pleased! She’ll go 9.975 for that one, and Burde audibly is disappointed, but encourages Wong and congratulates her on another great routine.
Edit: Aird, exh UB: GORGEOUS piked Jaeger, just floats. Bail a little piked. Good last handstand. DLO dismount looked a little piked but looked she stuck it!
Reed, FX: DLO to open! A little front foot slide and took it right to the line, but I didn’t see a judge raise their hand. Front lay to Rudi, a little off kilter but covers well. Dance series is a good one this week. Double pike to finish and it’s near perfection, just the acceptable lunge, no front foot movement at all. Crowd goes WILD!
7:20pm: Clark, EXH FX: 1.5 to front full, went to one foot to keep from going OOB, smart move on her part. Dance series looked good, that wolf 1.5 might be a little hopped around still? Hit that last double back like a pro!
Kuhn, Penn exh BB: Finally getting to watch a full Penn routine, sorry y’all. Bhs loso, nice and steady. Switch to straddle 1/2, maybe a little shy of 180 in there. Side aerial, gorgeous! Some low beam choreo to a gorgeous oversplit. Roundoff 1.5, hop on the landing. A rough rotation for them, looks like they are counting a fall.
AFTER ONE: UF 49.5, RUT 48.775, NCSU 48.575, PENN 47.775
Seeing lots of love for McCusker anchoring beam on your socials out there – she’ll be the final routine in the whole meet for the Gators tonight – talk about a highlight!
7:30pm: Rotation 2 time!
Skaggs, VT: FTY, little slide back but so straight in the air, lovely toes too.
Song, Penn FX: 1.5 to front lay, landing is a little muscled and crunchy though. Dance series looked good. Double back to finish was well controlled. A good start for Penn!
Robinson, NCSU UB: Blind change is great. Jaeger is nice and high! Pak is super floaty too, wow. Sounds like she stuck her dismount from here!
Schoenherr, VT: Y1.5, STUCK! COLD! Ugh they went 9.975 – that was the best I’ve ever seen her vault, holy cow.
7:33pm: Wong, VT: Podkopayeva, ALSO STUCK COLD!!! The Gators are on fire!! Legs a little separated in the air, pike shape was pretty clean though.
Merchant, UB: Just catching the dismount, DLO stuck!
Lashley, FX: First pass was a hit, missed what it was. Rudi was nice! Dance series clean. 1.5 to front lay to finish to Mr. Brightside music, I’m kind of obsessed. Another hit for them!
Battavio, Rutgers, BB: Nice series! Super steady on the landing. Looked like a little step on her dismount but I missed the rest of it.
Reed, VT: Y1.5, better height this week! Little bounce on the landing.
Ortega, UB: Gorgeous release and a little slide back on her dismount, that’s all I caught. Man, quad meets, y’all. There’s so much happening.
7:37pm: Blakely, VT: Y.15, super clean in the air. Looked like maybe a little adjustment on the landing.
Davies, FX: Double pike to open, chest a little low and has to stutter forward a little. Front lay front full, good control on that one. Double back to finish and it’s a good one!
Zannella, BB: Stuck dismount it looked like!
Jordan, UB: Release looked good from here, and maybe stuck her DLO? It really floated though, wow.
Thomas, VT: Y1.5, little step forward. But they don’t need perfection tonight, just more solid scores, more consistency. This fits the bill.
7:40pm: Newman, BB: Front toss, little balance check but recovers well. Series is secure, good. Splits looked clean out of the corner of my eye.
Vanhorn, FX: DOUBLE FRONT wow! Well controlled too. Double back, less control on that one, stumbles off to the side a bit. Dance series is also a little wild. Front full front pike, looked like she almost balked on her run but pushed through it. She was struggling with her directions in warmups so nice to see her perform well.
Edwards, exh VT: Yfull, little stutter on the landing.
Shepard, UB: Looked like she almost clipped her toes on the high bar on her pak? Full in, chest a little low, maybe a step forward. Lots of people between me and her.
7:43pm: Joyner, BB: Hit series! Lovely switch to switch half, hits 180 and then some. Front toss, nice. Little step on the dismount it looked like from here.
Hsu, FX: Rudi to loso, has too much power and has to turn to the side in order to not step out of bounds. Second combo pass is good. Switch ring 1/2 in her dance series was a bit of a mess, but nice to see the difficulty.
Childs, exh UB: Release looked good. Bail a little floppy. Last handstand was short. Maybe stuck her dismount?
7:46pm: Huang, BB: Cat leap to side aerial, lovely. Front aerial to bhs, nice and steady. Full turn directly to scale, LOVE that! Beat to straddle 3/4. Double full stuck! A great finish for the Scarlet Knights.
Kenefick, FX: 2.5 to punch front to open! You love to see those, not too many in the NCAA these days. Dance series was well controlled and hit 180 nicely in both elements. Front double full to finish! Wow! Talk about difficulty, this Penn team is really going for it.
7:49pm: Betancourt, exh BB: cat leap to side somi, ooh! But she can’t hang on, has to hop down. Bhs loso, and she’s off again, ouch. That’s rough. Full turn, smiling, trying to get some confidence back. Split to split full, wow! That’s a difficult one. Gainer full stuck!
Agarwala, exh, FX: Double pike, chest a little low and steps forward rather than back into her lunge. Ring positions in her dance passage are not adequate, she does a switch ring to switch ring 1/2, that’s really unusual to see in NCAA! Front lay front full, better on that pass. Good to see them getting another athlete out there!
AFTER TWO: UF 99.1, RUT 98.025, NCSU 97.525, PENN 96.7
My husband, playing the role of spectator and driver today, asks a great question: yes, oftentimes, teams do bring their own springboards. It helps add another layer of comfort and familiarity with the equipment so the gymnasts are safer and more likely to hit their skills the same way they do at home.
7:58pm: The NC State cheerleaders are SCREAMING into my ears but we are ready for rotation 3!
Blakely, UB: Maloney to pak looked good from here! Great last handstands! Wow, so precise on the blind change. Double front, step forward it looked like.
Hsu, Penn VT: Yfull, pretty clean in the air, hop back.
Diaz opens with a good routine for NCSU it sounded like from the crowd cheers, only saw the dismount.
Newman, FX: Double pike to open, very strong. Second pass was a hit based on the cheers, was focused on McCusker. Dance series looked clean out of the corner of my eye. 1.5 to front lay to finish, pretty clean and good control out of it. A great start for Rutgers!
McCusker, UB: Maloney to pak looked good. Rutgers coach standing directly in my way for the van Leeuwen. Stalder to double back is great this week! Looked stuck to me.
8:02pm: Foland, BB: Bhs loso, good, maybe a little leg up as she stepped back. Slow through this choreo, wonder if she’ll get a fluidity deduction. One step on the dismount.
Agarwala, VT: I think that was a Yfull on tuck off? A little wild in the air, step back.
Schoenherr, UB: I didn’t even realize she was going yet, I missed everything except her STUCK COLD dismount!
8:04pm: Pagliaro, FX: Double pike to open, very nice. Front lay front full, very intentional foot placement as she steps forward out of it. Dance series is nice and precise. Rudi to finish is a little off axis but she covers well.
Skaggs, UB: Great opening handstand! Tkachev to pak is gorgeous as usual. Final handstand is good. DLO stuck!
Jennings, BB: Bhs bhs loso, super steady. Switch to tuck 3/4, that’s a unique one. Stuck her dismount!
Thomas, UB: Maloney to pak looked good. I looked back to see beam and think she may have had to recast, because I saw the van Leeuwen and it looked good! DLO dismount stuck, crowd goes WILD!
Wood, FX: Rudi loso to open, nice and floaty. Front double full, wow! A little leg sep in the twists but landing is good. Gorgeous calypso in her finishing choreo and her team gives her the crown, that’s so cute.
8:08pm: Vanhorn, VT: Handspring pike half, nice! Little step on the landing.
Wong, UB: I missed her releases, but her final handstand was fabulous and she stuck her DLO dismount cold!!
Ortega just hit a huge BB routine for Rutgers it sounds like.
Balser, FX: Double back to open, very nice. Three-element dance series, all at 180 or better. 1.5 to front tuck and sits it, oof.
Gallentine, exh UB: Maloney to pak, clean. Last handstand looked a little muslced, but it was right on top. Stuck her full twisting DLO dismount!! Yes! I’ve been waiting for that from her.
8:12pm: Joyner, FX: Double pike to open, great height and control on that. So precise in that split, wow! Front full front lay, super clean form on both of those. Dance series is again, very precise, gorgeous toe point too. Combo pass to finish is clean. Another calypso turn, those are my fave. That’s gonna be a huge routine for them.
Looks like a delay for some reason on beam. No Shepard just yet.
Huang, FX: Front double full, fabulous! Rudi to a super floaty layout stepout, takes it right to the line but doesn’t go out. Dance series is cleanly done, love her toe point. Another Rudi to finish it out – what a rotation for Rutgers!!
8:17pm: Shepard finally going on BB. Switch to straddle 1/4, gorgeous splits. I love the finish in her arms and hands. Bhs loso, super steady. Side aerial, nice and steady. Stuck that landing! What a pro, after such a long wait to hit that.
Jones, exh FX: Double pike to open, GREAT height on that. Front lay to Rudi, has to crunch it forward a little in order to make it around. Cool flip up to her knees from laying down in her choreo, that’s fun! 1.5 to front lay to finish it out, solid. She’s really performing this one, you love to see it!
Webb, BB: Former Gator on beam alert! She is living her best life at NCSU though, great to see her leading this team. Bhs loso, locks it down, doesn’t move a muscle. Switch leap to split jump, just gorgeous. Front aerial, hesitates a little but keeps it small. Beat to sheep, legs definitely akimbo there, not my favorite. Stuck double full dismount! Another great routine for the Wolfpack.
AFTER THREE: UF 148.7, RUT 147.325, NCSU 146.575, PENN 145.575
Unless a team has to count a fall, I think the outcome is pretty decided already, but this has been a really fun meet to watch regardless. The Gators are on track for another 198 if beam goes well, and if they can average a 9.9, they will reach that beat that 198.125 mark that they needed to tie Oklahoma for the No. 1 ranking!
8:29pm: Here we go! Last one best one!
Diaz, NCSU FX: Double pike to open, nice dynamics and good control. Combo pass for her second pass was solid. Double tuck to finish, maybe a little slide but it was a good one! Great start for the Wolfpack.
Hughes, Rut VT: Yfull, light on the distance but looked like a quality landing.
Skaggs, BB: Wolf turn looked fine from here. Switch to split, gorgeous. Bhs loso, little lean to the side. There go the 10.0 hopes. Front aerial, solid. Cat leap to switch side, very nice. Side aerial back full, think she stuck it!
8:31pm: Merchant, FX: Double pike, big slide back. Dance series looked clean. Combo pass, very cleanly twisted in the air. Rudi for her final pass was clean – another hit!
Blakely, BB: Front aerial to bhs, steady. Switch to switch half, not as good as in warmups but still solid. Looked like another stuck dismount!
Kenfick with a stuck landing on bars for Penn!
Joyner, VT: Yfull, clean in the air and a little step, it looked like.
8:34pm: Big celebration from Rutgers for Betancourt, I didn’t see what it was but obviously it was good?
Webb, FX: This is a FUN routine, y’all. Nice high double pike to open, a little leg sep. Rudi to stag, nice. 1.5 to front pike for her final pass and she’s THRILLED, starts crying as soon as her music ends, it’s almost like she can’t believe it.
Baumann, BB: I’m mad they have to go at the same time, I know Lyss wants to watch Nicole. Bhs loso, breaks at the hips! No! Stays on the beam somehow, wow. Switch to split is good. Front aerial to beat, back to normal. Side aerial, locks it down. Sticks her dismount! I can tell she’s not happy but she fought tooth and nail for that routine.
8:37pm: Pagliaro, exh VT: FTY, very low chest and some bent legs at the end.
Sounds like Penuela-Wermers hit a big one for Penn on bars!
Wong, BB: So far so good, series was fine. Switch ring looked better this week. Front aerial, steady. Roundoff double full, maybe a bit of a college stick, but what a hit for the freshman! Handled the pressure like it was nothing.
Rutherford, FX: 2.5 to front tuck, gorgeous! Choreo is fun in this, lots of energy. Double tuck to finish, and it’s another good one! NC State is killing it on floor.
A fall from Kuhn on bars for Penn, missed her hands on her Tkachev.
8:40pm: Clapper, BB: Bhs loso loso, has to take a few steps forward but keeps moving, doesn’t arm wave or balance check. Switch to split is clean, good. Side aerial to back full, holds the stick! A good recovery.
Shepard, FX: Double pike to open, steps OOB. Front lay front full, clean there. Webb in the corner cheering her on. Bringing the drama in this choreo, I kinda love it. Finishes with a double back, pops it out into a lunge. Finishes just a beat before her music, wonder if the judge on the other side of the floor noticed.
8:43pm: McCusker, BB: Double wolf is good, from the cheers. Front aerial, solid. Love seeing her smile up there. Bobble on her series but she stays on. Switch to split leap, lovely. Looks like a stuck dismount from the reactions, but maybe they’re just celebrating. I couldn’t see it.
Jennings, FX: First element (wolf 1.5? maybe?) is CHUCKED around. Combo pass to open is clean though. Dance series here is better. Double tuck is short, bounces back and leg comes up, but she doesn’t touch the ground. Not the big finish they were probably hoping for.
Penn had a super long wait on bars after Kuhn’s fall. Finally, Mccaleigh Marr will go.
M Marr, UB: Great low bar handstands. Maloney is nice. Bail a little loose. DLO dismount to finish, she has to take a lunge forward, but it’s a hit, they’ll be able to drop the fall.
FINAL: UF 197.975, RUT 196.4, NCSU 195.9, PENN 194.3
A long wait for that final score, but that’s a great score for both Florida and Rutgers in terms of NQS. We’ll have some interviews for y’all shortly, but awards first! The Gators win every event – Schoenherr and Wong on vault, Thomas on bars, Wong on beam, floor, and in the AA! She matched Thomas’s season high score tonight with a MASSIVE 39.85.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight for our first meet back in person in two years! See you back next week for SEC Championships, and don’t forget to check out my Twitter later on for quotes from our interviews!