It’s Rivalry and Alumni Night as storied competitors Florida and Georgia go head-to-head!
As has been the case for the past few years, Florida is the heavy favorite to win this matchup, as Georgia has struggled with consistency and vault difficulty. The Gymdogs hit their first 197+ score of the season just last week in a home matchup against Kentucky. Vault has been their problem child this season, only scoring above a 49.0 once so far in 2023.
By comparison, Florida has been soaring above its competition. The Gators have not scored below a 197.3 yet this year, nor below a 49.2 on any single event. Florida remains the only undefeated team in the SEC, and one of the few in the NCAA.
If you’ve been here before, you know who we’re watching at Florida tonight – Trinity Thomas, Leanne Wong, and Kayla DiCello have all turned in award-winning performances this season. Transfers Victoria Nguyen and Rachel Baumann have also been standouts, and tonight will be especially meaningful to them, as they’re competing against their former teammates.
For Georgia, keep an eye out for Soraya Hawthorne on beam and floor: she’s perhaps their most engaging performer on the team. Freshman Naya Howard is also one to watch, as her AA scores have been rising steadily over the season thus far.
The action starts at the O-Dome at 5:45 or on SEC Network at 6pm, but if you can’t make it in person or don’t have access to the broadcast, we’ll have the action for you here play-by-play!
5:44pm: I’m here! Made it to my couch for this early start time tonight.
Riley McCusker is warming up beam! Will we see her in the lineup tonight?
Tonight is also Alumni Night, so many former Gators will be in the arena tonight! Love to see messages like this from them.
Morgan Hurd is practicing her double layout upgrade! The scoresheet seems to indicate she will be resting tonight, but how great would it be to see her put this in next week?
Not really interested in more Paul Finebaum, but the broadcast is experiencing technical difficulties… oh here we go!
Looks like we only missed one vault? Edwards with a 9.825.
6:04pm: Richards, VT: Y1.5, one of her better ones! Just a stutter step back.
Angeny, UB: Let’s see how she looks in black and red – she transferred for her COVID year from Kentucky. Jaeger looks good, transition a little loose. DLO dismount, small adjustment.
DiCello, VT: Y.15, big amplitude, huge distance! Big hop forward and some knees in the air, too.
Howard, UB: Church! Haven’t seen one of those since Ebee Price. Straight to overshoot, that’s fine. Sticks the dismount! I did say she’d be one to watch.
6:07pm: Wong, VT: Yurchenko half-on, pike half off – cleaner in the legs tonight but can’t quite find the landing, bounces back.
Scott, UB: Maloney to pak salto, very clean, legs pasted together. Short on the final handstand. DLO, a little undercooked and has to hop forward.
Thomas, VT: Y1.5, STICKS it! Just brings her heels together. Incredible!
She gets a 10.0! We love to see it!
Finnegan, UB: Ray, nice amplitude there. Some leg separation on the pak salto. Full out dismount is stuck! Georgia starting off strong with this bars rotation.
6:11pm: Blakely, VT: Love seeing her make this lineup tonight! Y1.5, came up a little short and has to stumble back to stay on her feet.
de Jong, UB: Maloney to bail, a little floppy in the handstand. Great last handstand though. DLO, slings it out but still makes it around, just a small adjustment of the feet.
UF 49.425, UGA 49.225
6:21pm: Rotation 2!
de Jong, VT: Yurchenko full, a little bouncy on the landing there.
Richards, UB: Opens with a strong handstand. Big leg separation on the Maloney, but the bail is much better. Final handstand looked short but Kathy disagreed with me, DLO with the usual leg sep and comes up short, has to hop forward.
Finnegan, VT: Yfull, very clean in the air, doesn’t get much distance though. Just a little slide on the landing.
Blakely, UB: Strong first handstand. Maloney and pak salto both had a little bit of leg sep. Lovely half turn on low bar. Great final handstand work. Double front, and she sticks it! That’s how you bounce back. What a star!
Elsadek, VT: Yfull, pikes down on the landing, chest low. Maybe stuck? Had to really swim for it though.
6:25pm: Nguyen, UB: INCREDIBLE first handstand. Maloney is super clean, legs stuck together, but some wild legs on the pak. Has to recast on the low bar but finesses it well. DLO, overcooks it and has to hop back.
Cashman, VT: Yfull, nice body position in the air, bounce on the landing.
DiCello, UB: Her Ray just FLOATS, wow. Pak salto is clean, and connects the van Leeuwen much better this week. Gorgeous. Full out and just baaaarely has to take a step on the landing.
Howard, VT: Yfull, just a little adjustment on the landing, not a lot of amplitude on that one, though. Kathy’s right, the block was not as powerful as it should’ve been.
Thomas, UB: Great opening handstand. Maloney and pak both have legs glued together. Great low bar handstands. Van Leeuwen is excellent. DLO is stuck like glue – Thomas is on FIRE tonight, y’all!
6:30pm: Hawthorne, VT: Y1.5, WOO she overcooks it, but great amplitude. Big bounce forward though.
Wong, UB: Maloney to pak, both super clean and very floaty. van Leeuwen is also great. Lovely final handstand work. DLO, and she sticks too! That might be another 10.0 for her, we’ll see?? Nope, 9.975 as well. That’s still a great score, though.
Honestly, what a pair to close this Gator bar rotation – Thomas and Wong have the killer instinct, and it’s still only Week 4.
AFTER TWO: UF 99.0, UGA 98.55
One of the shots of the crowd caught Savannah Schoenherr’s girlfriend Syd in the crowd showing the judges what she thought of those last two scores!
6:39pm: Rotation 3!
Blakely, BB: Front aerial to bhs, little adjustment in there but she keeps it really effortless. Switch to switch half, both fantastic. Full turn, solid. Gainer full off the side is stuck! Great start for the Gators.
King, FX: Like a G6 is her opening music, wow, what a throwback. Front double full to front tuck, that’s a great opening pass! Random straddle jump, okay? Run the World now, this is a very 2011 mix. Switch side to Popa, great straddle positions. 1.5 to front layout, super clean in the air, single step out of the pass.
6:43pm: Richards, BB: Back handspring layout stepout (bhs loso), nice and steady. Switch half to beat jump, she actually did pretty well with that, I know it’s not been her strongest element in the past. Another dance series, lovely there as well. Sticks her dismount! She’s having a really good night.
Williams, FX: Double pike to open, front foot moves a little. Switch side to Popa (straddle jump full), fine there. Really milking the jazzy moment in this choreo. Front full to front layout, stays controlled in that step out. Double back to finish, nice and high in the air, great landing too! That’s another good one for Georgia.
6:46pm: Lazzari, BB: Bhs loso loso, just gorgeous! Switch leap to split jump, gorgeous 180 positions. Front aerial, small adjustment but clearly in control. Full turn, good. Bhs 1.5 twist, just a hop to the side.
Cashman, FX: 1.5 to front full, clean, if a little lowkey for an opening pass. Switch side to straddle jump, clean. Double back to finish – a pretty short routine if I’m honest?
6:50pm: Nguyen, BB: What an elegant, unique mount, love it. Onodi to bhs, fantastic. Y turn to full turn, wow! That’s a difficult combination. Bhs 1.5 twist, looked like she had a small hop from here.
Howard, FX: Front tuck through to double tuck, nicely done, if a little too much juice on the landing. Really having some fun with the dance here, this arena loves a good Missy Elliot moment. Double pike to finish, chest a little low? But another hit for the Gymdogs.
DiCello, BB: Candle mount – really floats it this week, gets some good hang time before regrasping the beam. Double wolf turn, super steady. Switch leap to split jump, gorgeous 180 splits. Bhs loso, just dead on, wow. Front aerial, just a small arm swing correction there. Bhs gainer full off the side, small adjustment on the landing. Another great one for her.
deJong, FX: Rudi to loso opening pass with a Hannah Montana guitar riff into Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne. Love that. And Friends for the second half? Hilarious. Dance series was solid. Triple full to close, WILD in the air and does another half turn out of it, I think ended up out of bounds (OOB).
6:57pm: Wong, BB: Switch half to split leap, lovely split positions. Bhs loso, little arm swing there – Gators giving away valuable tenths here. Won’t have that luxury come postseason. Front aerial to beat jump, so patient with that. Roundoff double full, just a little shift back.
Hawthorne, FX: A little funk in this opening – moonwalks into the corner to start her first pass. Double pike to open, a little foot slide on the opening. Front lay to Rudi to split jump, sooo much power, she has to swing her arms to get control of her momentum again.
AFTER THREE: UF 148.475, UGA 147.575
She may not have gotten a 10, but seeing Nguyen in the beam lineup tonight with some very… specific… beam music felt very cathartic. So happy she’s happy here in Gainesville.
7:09pm: Rotation 4!
Howard, BB: Bhs loso, really patient with that landing, let herself settle in rather than wobbling. Switch to switch half, little shy on the split there. Side aerial, sizeable bobble there. Bhs gainer full looked stuck from here?
Brubach, FX: Nice to see her back in the lineup this week. Front lay to Rudi, a little wild there, piked down on the landing. Dance sequence is fine, a little bouncy on the landing. Double tuck, little slide of the front foot but solid body position on the landing. Good start for the Gators.
7:12pm: Hawthorne, BB: Bhs loso to start, little lean maybe? Dance series is clean, nice 180 positions. Front toss to wolf jump, that’s fun. Moonwalk, that’s Georgia tradition – she does it much better than many previous performers. Roundoff 1.5 twist, didn’t really stay long enough for me to call that a stick…
Nguyen, FX: Hearing teammates in the background screaming, “Wooooow she’s so pretty! Let’s go!” Front double full to sissone, much better this week. Switch ring to switch half, gorgeous. 1.5 to front layout, super clean. Queen of elegance right there.
7:16pm: Deniz, BB: Nice tic-toc mount, that’s fun. Showing some nice work on toe here. Side aerial bhs, a little off kilter in the air but no issues on the beam. Front aerial to beat jump, lovely. Switch leap to split jump, good. Gainer tuck full off the end, sticks it! How she spots the landing in the middle of that chaotic twisting motion, I’ll never know, but she nailed it.
Baumann, FX: Double wolf turn to open, nice and precise and steady. 1.5 twist to front full, super well controlled. Kathy took the words right out of my mouth, the PRECISION with which she moves – her choreography, her dance skills, and her tumbling are all just so spot on. Switch side to straddle jump, gets so much air. Double pike to finish, steps forward rather than back, but masks it well.
7:20pm: Moran, BB: Nice opening double wolf turn. Switch leap to beat jump, little bobble. Showing some nerves there. Side aerial to bhs, gets it back. Front aerial, little balance check there too. Little hop on her dismount.
Wong, FX: Piked Double Arabian, which is called a Dos Santos – ooh, she undercooks it but somehow dances out of the deep squat she was in, wow. Great cover. Triple dance series, lovely there. Back half to front full to finish, nice and clean. Not her best, but not as bad as it could’ve been, were it someone with less experience and fight.
7:24pm: Scott, BB: Front handspring to two feet, back into a bhs loso, that’s different. Split leap to switch leap to korbut, ooh, misses it and swing around the bottom of the beam, that’ll be a fall. Slight adjustment on her dismount, but it’s already done.
Thomas, FX: Sliding her into this rotation even though she was supposed to sit this week. DLO is a STUNNER as always. A little wild on that dance series, but she made it work still, I think. Combination pass to close is so clean and well controlled. Butterfly, signature oversplit, and the dramatic ending pose.
7:28pm: de Jong, BB: Full turn to start, nice and quick. Switch to straddle 1/4, a little tight in the 180 on her switch but I think it will be passable. Front aerial to beat jump, fine. Bhs loso, solid. Bhs 1.5, little hop on the landing.
Blakely, FX: Nice to see her back in this lineup after she’s been out for a few weeks. Double arabian, it’s one of her good ones! Just a single step forward, great control. Dance series looks clean to me. Really giving this routine some sauce tonight… and I jinxed her, she bounces forward out of her last pass and ends up totally OOB. Too much juice.
FINAL: UF 197.9, UGA 196.85
Thomas wins vault with that perfect 10.0, Thomas and Wong take bars at 9.975, Wong earns the beam crown somehow at 9.925, and Nguyen earns her first floor title with the Gators, tying with Thomas at 9.925. The AA title goes to Wong at 39.65.
Join me on Twitter @mycluttereddesk for livetweets of the post-meet press conference. Until next time!