It’s a star-studded night in Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, as two titans of the SEC go head-to-head. Florida comes in as the favorite, but never count Alabama out when you’re in their house.
This week’s SEC honor-winners will all be in the same competition, as Leanne Wong and Kayla DiCello of Florida took home Gymnast and Specialist of the Week, and Gabby Gladieux of Alabama earned her first Freshman of the Week nod. Add to that two powerhouse all-arounders in Florida’s Trinity Thomas and Alabama’s Luisa Blanco, and you have the makings of a real battle on your hands.
In addition to those stars, there are a few other can’t-miss routines fans will want to watch for tonight. Rachel Baumann tweaked her shoulder in touch warmups last week at Florida, so if she’s back in any lineups, that’ll be a great sign. Morgan Hurd also debuted her floor routine last week to huge cheers from the O-Dome crowd, so she may have another opportunity tonight. For Alabama, Makarri Doggette is a must-watch on bars, as is Lilly Hudson on beam.
The action starts at 7:30pm on ESPNU, but if you can’t make it or don’t have cable, keep refreshing this page – we’ll have the play-by-play right here throughout the meet.
7:25pm: I spoke too soon! Looks like Doggette is in a boot, meaning she may not perform tonight. If anything, bars seems likely, since there’s only one impact to the feet.
7:32pm: Rotation one, here we go!
Adams, VT: Yfull, deeeeeep knee bend, but she sticks it! We’ll see what’s worth more, the stick or the control.
Richards, UB: Maloney, some leg sep there. Bail was fine. DLO dismount, legs starfish out a little bit
Mitchell, VT: Yhalf, BIG bound forward and another step to steady herself.
Blakely, UB: Maloney, better in the legs than Richards. Pak was clean, nice. Great last handstand! Blind change is good. Double front STUCK! You could tell it was a good one for her when she finished rotating so high, that was fantastic.
7:36pm: Little, VT: Yfull, good distance but a little flat in her height. Bounce back on the landing.
Nguyen, UB: Great opening handstand! Leg sep on both Maloney and pak, she’s a little off her game. DLO floooooats down to the ground and stuck! Replay shows a solid handstand before that dismount, too.
Hudson, VT: Y1.5, step on the landing.
DiCello, UB: Ray, huge air! Pak salto is clean, legs together. van Leeuwen too, very nice! Full out dismount is stuck!
7:40pm: Gladieux, VT: Biiiiiig Yfull, huge distance with a decent bounce back. Nice and clean in the air though.
Thomas, UB: Maloney is clean to start, pak has a little angle separation. Great handstand work on the low bar. van Leeuwen is solid. Double layout (DLO) dismount, little shuffle of the feet it looked like.
7:42pm: Paradise, VT: Y1.5, just a little hop on the landing, very clean in the air! Nice straight legs, good rise, not a lot of distance but overall quite good.
Wong, UB: Gorgeous opening handstand! Maloney to pak, gorgeous. van Leeuwen is so clean, so precise in her twist as she regrasps. DLO dismount is stuck! She is in the ZONE!
AFTER ONE: UF 49.425, BAMA 49.1
Scores are actually starting out pretty reasonable, which is a pleasant surprise. We’ll see if that continues through the rest of the meet…
7:51pm: Rotation two time!
Clark, VT: Looks like Rachel Baumann is still out tonight. Bummer.
Yfull, a little bouncy on the landing, but very clean in the air.
Hudson, UB: Overarches her opening handstand, but gets it back on the second. Maloney to bail is fine. Full pirouette to double tuck dismount is stuck – a solid opening for Bama there.
7:53pm: Edwards, VT: Yfull, HUGE height and distance, but a big hop back on the landing. She just fliiiiies. I’d love to see them try a harder vault with her…
Little, UB: Nice first handstand. Goes for the Maloney, couldn’t grasp all the way around and she comes off. Not what they needed right now. She’s gonna retry the release. Makes it this time, good for her, pak is clean. Solid last handstand. DLO, comes off a little early and bounces back on the landing.
7:55pm: Richards, VT: Y1.5, solid distance, and a good landing – just a little slide back! Love that she’s getting the confidence back on this vault.
Paradise, UB: Solid opening handstand work. Jaeger is nice, would like a little more air there. Bail is strong. Goes hard on the last handstand, and it’s too hard – she overarches and comes off on the other side. Sticks her dismount when she remounts, but it’s too little too late. Alabama will count a fall!
7:58pm: DiCello, VT: Y1.5, huge – a little step forward. Commentators are sharing that associate head coach Adrian Burde would rather her overcook it than try to stick since the vault is still so new, but looks like she still tried for the stick tonight.
Waligora, UB: Great opening handstand. Jaeger to overshoot, fine. Not the biggest fan of those, but that’s a personal preference. Full twisting DLO dismount, just a little slide back. That’s probably the most difficult dismount being done in the NCAA right now!
8:00pm: Wong, VT: Yhalf on, pike half off – a little shapeless in the air, piked down on the landing. Not her best.
Machado, UB: Strong opening handstand! Maloney to pak, some leg separation there. Rushed her dismount and last handstand, think tehre was a shuffle on the feet.
Thomas, VT: Y1.5, big distance and height as per usual, just a little stutter step on the landing.
Strong routine from Blanco but I had the hiccups so I missed it! Sorry!
AFTER TWO: UF 98.675, BAMA 97.775
8:12pm: Rotation three time!
Burgess, BB: Full turn to open is lovely and clean. Back handspring (bhs) layout stepout (loso), super steady. Side aerial, solid. Switch leap to beat jump, great positions there. Cat leap to switch side, another excellent combination. She’s so precise with her arm placement, love that. Gainer pike off the end of the beam is stuck! What a great leadoff for Bama! Also love that she used Praying by Kesha for her beam music.
8:14pm: DiCello, FX: Front double full to start, a little off her axis but covers well. Leap sequence is gorgeous as usual. Single wolf turn, solid. 1.5 to front full, comes right up to the line but does not go over. Jeremy Miranda is in the corner SCREAMING for her! A great leadoff for the Gators as well.
8:16pm: Lewis, BB: Leap sequence is clean. Bhs loso, hesitates a little there with a leg up. Front aerial to sissone, very nice. Bhs gainer full off the side, stuck! Good for her, we love seeing freshmen succeed.
8:17pm: Nguyen, FX: Love this classical routine on her, apparently the music is from Howl’s Moving Castle, the beloved Studio Ghibli film. Front double full to sissone, just gorgeous and floaty through the connection. Leap series is good, as is her Y turn to full turn connection, don’t see that often in NCAA. Strong 1.5 to front lay to finish out. Another great routine!
8:20pm: Waligora, BB: Full turn to open, clean. Bhs loso, takes her time with it, very clean. Split jump to tuck jump full, that’s fun, very vintage NCAA. Roundoff 1.5 twist dismount is stuck, with a little lean. Bama recovering well here after the bars calamity.
8:22pm: Baumann, FX: She’s back! Glad she’s feeling better. Double wolf turn to open, fine. 1.5 to front full, stutter step as she comes out – comes very close to the line, not sure if she went over or not. Switch side to straddle jump, sooooo high and great oversplit. Double pike to finish, just stepped forward into the lunge but covered that underrotation very well. Replay shows just a little ankle roll on the first pass, no OOB.
8:24pm: Gladieux, BB: Bhs layout 2ft to start, pretty straight in the body position there. Front aerial to beat jump, clean. Switch to straddle, great 180 positions there. Roundoff double back stuck! Holy cow, that’s a dismount! One of the more difficult dismounts being done in NCAA right now.
8:26pm: Wong, FX: Another elegant routine coming here. Dos Santos is a little underrotated, but she covers well with dance rather than trying for her stag jump. Triple dance series is nice and precise. 1.5 to front full is clean to finish. A solid routine, but Kathy’s right, certainly not her best.
8:28pm: Hudson, BB: Front aerial to bhs loso, that’s nice! Dance series is clean. Tries to hold the stick but leans a little too far forward, I don’t know that I’d give that to her.
8:30pm: Thomas, FX: DLO to open, incredible as usual, keeps that front foot glued to the ground as she lunges back. Dance series is so clean and crisp, we love to see it. She is still playing to the crowd here, even in the away arena. Sticks her combination pass! What an absolute queen. Chanting for the 10, I think it’s unlikely but we’ll see what these judges think.
8:32pm: Blanco, BB: Front aerial to begin, super steady. Lovely full turn, toe point and releve throughout this routine is just lovely. Bhs loso, solid there too. Gorgeous arabesque to scale, showing off her flexibility. Switch ring to beat jump, little hesitation but does not wobble. 1.5 twist, hops forward on the landing.
8:34pm: Hurd, FX: Love that she’s getting another opportunity on this lineup! Combination pass to open, nice and clean. A little stumble on one of her dance elements, uncharacteristic for her. Love this expressive choreography she has here in the corner. Double pike to finish, comes up short, little ankle stinger of a landing. Won’t be a great score, but she’s getting the reps in, and sometimes that’s just what it takes to get comfortable and confident in competition again.
AFTER THREE: UF 147.975, BAMA 147.025
Your friendly neighborhood Sav cam. Love how involved she still is on the sidelines!
8:43pm: Blakely, BB: Front aerial to bhs, very steady starting out. Switch leap to switch half to beat, just gorgeous 180 positions there. Little wobble on the full turn but she’s okay. Gainer full off the side, little bounce back on the landing.
8:45pm: Waligora, FX: Great Balls of Fire routine, that’s fun! Front lay to front double full, wow! That’s a hard combination. Dance series is solid. Choreo section in here is a little low energy, even in her home arena. Hmm. L turn, okay? Must be for bonus. 1.5 to front lay, a little large on the lunge out of it, a little uncontrolled. Still, a decent leadoff for Bama.
8:47pm: Lazzari, BB: Bhs loso loso, dances right out of it, she’s so confident. Switch leap to straddle jump, a little bobble but she gets it back under control. Front aerial, super steady. Full turn is clean. Bhs 1.5 twist, sticks it! Great job.
8:49pm: Machado, FX: Double pike to open, front foot slides back a little into the lunge. Really showing off her lines and flexibility in this choreography. Camera angle completely obscured her dance series, that’s helpful. 1.5 to front pike. Triple wolf turn, that’s the most difficult dance element being done in the NCAA maybe? Double back to close, comes up pretty short. Ok, replay shows a clean dance series, nice split positions.
8:51pm: Nguyen, BB: Yessss love seeing her get the nod here! Onodi to bhs, what a unique series! Y turn, so difficult on the beam, just gorgeous. Bhs 1.5 twist, looks like a stick from here!
8:53pm: Adams, FX: Double pike to open, strong start. Tuck jump 1.5 in that dance sequence, that’s hard to get around and be precise with. Double wolf is fine. 1.5 to front layout to finish, with some fun choreography and a back spin to boot. Another strong routine for Alabama.
8:55pm: DiCello, BB: Candle mount – faces away from the beam and dives backward to grasp the beam upside down! Double wolf turn, nice and patient with it. Switch leap to split jump, lovely split positions. Bhs loso, very nice. Front aerial is so steady too, she’s such a pro. Bhs gainer full off the side, stuck! She’s going to be very close to Thomas for the AA title here.
8:57pm: Gladieux, FX: Full in to open, twists a little slow but still gets around somehow, decent control on the landing. Dance series is strong. Some fun choreography on the floor there. Rudi to split jump, solid. Showing off that flexibility here in the ending choreography – still learning how to play to the crowd in this arena, but strong technically.
8:59pm: Wong, BB: Gorgeous series, dances right out of it. Lovely full turn. Front aerial to beat jump, nice and steady. So elegant and extended through this whole thing. Roundoff double full, doesn’t quite get the stick on that.
9:01pm: Hudson, FX: Front lay to front double full, that’s the second one in this lineup, wow! Chaine turns into the corner, very traditional there. Second pass is a 2.5 twist, has to be veryyyy careful with her toes as she steps on the line, and we transition from Mountain Music to Thunderstruck. Double tuck to finish, nice! What a great routine.
9:03pm: Thomas, BB: Switch leap mount, just phenomenal. One arm bhs loso, super secure. Front aerial to two feet, much better this week. Beat jump to korbut, very nice. Side aerial back 1.5, little stutter step to the side, still getting used to that new dismount it seems.
9:05pm: Blanco, FX: Double wolf turn here to start, steady there. Double pike to open, strong. Double tuck, nice and high, lots of room left on that tumbling run. Dance series is solid. Super precise in this choreography section, lots of energy. Ooh, illusion turn into a forward roll, that’s fun. Front full to front lay, maybe a little uncontrolled in her step forward but covers well with an arabesque. That’s going to play well at SEC Championships and Nationals if they get there.
FINAL: UF 197.325, BAMA 196.45
That’s a great away score to have in the bank at the beginning of the season for Florida, and a win over Alabama is always a nice bonus.
Jordyn Paradise and Trinity Thomas tie for the vault title at 9.9, Kayla DiCello and Thomas tie for bars at 9.925, DiCello earns the beam title solo at 9.925, and Luisa Blanco and Thomas tie for the floor title at 9.95. That earns Thomas the AA crown as well with a whopping 39.65! What a great night for the Gators.
Since it’s an away meet, I don’t have access to post-meet press tonight, but thanks for tuning in! We’ll be back next week for Rivalry Night when Georgia comes to town!