The Gators are off to their second away meet of the season to take on the Razorbacks! Once again, they are the heavy favorites, but this may be a key opportunity for head coach Jenny Rowland to play around some more with the depth of these lineups, as Florida should have a decent margin of error over Arkansas.
Still, Arkansas is on the rise – it pulled off an upset over LSU last week in a pretty shocking turn of events, led by super senior transfer Norah Flatley. The Gators should not expect to just coast through this one with a win.
In addition to Flatley, Arkansas has a few other key routines to watch. Freshman Lauren Williams has a showstopping floor routine, and fifth-year Bailey Lovett shows off sky-high tumbling, often using her hands as little as possible due to an elbow injury she has struggled with throughout her career. All-around star Kennedy Hambrick has struggled in recent weeks, but if she can get her head back in the game, she can be a threat on any event.
For the Gators, the live scoring seems to indicate that Riley McCusker will finally make her lineup debut this season! In addition, it appears that we should expect Morgan Hurd to be rested tonight. Many hope to see Rachel Baumann return to the vault lineup after tweaking her elbow in warm-ups a few weeks ago, and Victoria Nguyen has also teased the coming debut of her Yurchenko 1.5 on vault as well.
It all starts at 8pm on SEC Network+, but if you don’t have access or can’t make it to a streaming device, we will have all your updates right here, play by play!
A collection of tweets of joy for this evening:
Tonight’s leotard! Looks like another new one from Florida.
Kentucky v. Mizzou is finishing up here shortly, but if you check out the replay, you might see a familiar face – Gator alum Kennedy Baker made her commentary debut tonight!
7:43pm: The press release from Florida’s SID said 7:45, but I’m assuming that’s when intros are starting. The actual broadcast will start at 8:00, so we have just a few more minutes before things get started!
Looks like it’s going to be a packed meet! They’ll be in Bud Walton Arena tonight, the big arena at Arkansas – the Gymbacks have upgraded from just one meet a year in The Bud to multiple this year, and the Gators are clearly thrilled to be one of the lucky opponents:
Elsewhere in SEC Gymnastics, Auburn leads Alabama after one rotation, led by a 10.0 from Suni Lee on bars. I doubt our meet will be as competitive, but it’s good to keep in mind what Florida is still up against come postseason.
8:00pm: We are having some technical difficulties. Hold please.
8:04pm: I missed the first few routines due to some technical issues, but we are here!
Nguyen, UB: Maloney to pak salto, some leg sep on the pak. Stuck her dismount!
L Smith, VT: Yfull, great distance, nice flare at the end. Little hop on the landing.
8:07pm: DiCello, UB: Great opening handstand. Huge Ray, and solid handstand after. Pak salto is clean, as is the van Leeuwen! Sticks her dismount!! She has been on fire these last few weeks!
Price, VT: Huge Yfull, very floaty, sticks it! That’ll be a big score.
8:09pm: Thomas, UB: Maloney is good, a little wild on the pak? van Leeuwen calms it down. DLO, has to swing her arms a little but she doesn’t move those feet.
Sedlacek, VT: Y1.5, came up a little short and has to slide her feet back under her. Some knee bend in the air too.
Wong, UB: First handstand maybe a little shy? Maloney to pak is quite clean. van Leeuwen great. DLO is stuck cold!
8:11pm: Williams, VT: Y1.5, lots of power there, takes one big lunge forward but steps it back to her previous landing position.
McCusker, UB: Maloney to pak, lovely. Has a problem with her low bar handstand but muscled through it. Stalder to double tuck, again, a little muscling through but comes up clean!
Kelley, VT exh: Yfull, pretty clean! Little shuffle on the landing. Maybe some knee bend, more evident in the replay.
8:14pm: Richards, UB exh: Great opening handstand! Lots of leg sep in the Maloney, bail is okay. Great last handstand! DLO, again some leg separation, little adjustment on the landing.
AFTER ONE: UF 49.625, ARK 49.275
To be completely fair, we had a fair number of gifts in that rotation. Thomas scored a 9.975, but that was nowhere near her best quality routine. But because the judges scored her that high, they sort of backed themselves into a corner for Wong and had to give her a perfect 10.0, even though she has also done more perfect routines in the past.
8:24pm: Richards, VT: Y1.5, wow! One of her best lately, just a little adjustment.
Swaney, UB: Solid release skills. Good last handstand. A little floppy in the DLO but it’s stuck!
Wong, VT: Yhalf-on, pike half off, pretty sizeable hop back. She’s having some more trouble dialing this in this year.
Aaaaand more technical difficulties. Apologies, y’all.
Looks like Scalzo and Drotar hit bars for Arkansas.
8:29pm: Thomas, VT: Y1.5, big hop forward, but she didn’t seem like she was really trying to stick this week.
Jones, UB: First handstand looked maybe a little shy. Gorgeous piked Jaeger! Pak salto is pretty floaty, legs clean. Last handstand maybe short as well, single step back on her DLO dismount. Commentator keeps saying good handstands, it might just be our angle? Hard to say.
Edwards, VT: Not sure why we’re mixing up the order here so much, but she’s moved quite late in this lineup. Yfull, big distance, but a big bound back.
Pratt, UB: Ray was big! Bail fine. Great last handstand! DLO, little arm swing, not sure I give her the stick on that.
8:32pm: Blakely, VT: Y1.5, much better than last week, little hop forward and to the side, but does not go over the directional line. Good for her!
Flatley, UB: Y’all are in for a treat. Huge Jaeger to open. Great handstand there. A little loose on the bail. Great final handstand! DLO, baby bounce back. Not her best but what a rock she is for this team.
8:34pm: Clark, VT exh: Yfull, just a little hop on the landing. Getting more distance from her though!
Hambrick, UB exh: Rushed her opening handstand work a little. Jaeger is excellent, to immediate overshoot, fine. Little bounce back out of her dismount.
AFTER TWO: UF 99.025, ARK 98.575
This is not Florida’s best meet, but they are on pace for a 198 if they can duplicate what they’ve already done in the second half. Arkansas on pace for a 197 isn’t half bad either.
Wish I had seen it, but this is a good sign! She scored a 9.875.
8:43pm: Okay, rotation 3 time!
Gamiao, BB: Layout stepout to another layout stepout (loso loso), that’s excellent. Side somi, quite squatty and little arm swing there. Dance series is clean. Full turn, super steady. Roundoff 1.5, stuck! That’s a great start for Arkansas, wow.
Brubach, FX: Front layout to Rudi (front 1.5) to open, solid, although a little crooked in the air. Dance series was clean, controlled on the landing. Double tuck to finish, big lunge out of it, front foot slides back. Still, a decent start for the Gators. Nobody’s trying to be perfect today, I think this is a good place for them to be.
8:47pm: Gianfagna, BB: Back handspring layout stepout (bhs loso), very steady, although some bent knees in there. Front toss to beat jump, nice and quick on that connection. Beat to straddle 1/2, clean and good 180 position there. Roundoff 1.5 dismount, another stick!
DiCello, FX: Front double full, a little crooked again and she has a crossover step there to the side. Dances right out of it though, tries to cover. Switch ring is gorgeous in her dance pass, just lovely. 1.5 to front full, a little squatty on the landing but makes it work. Not her greatest. I wonder if she was having trouble with her visual cues, being in such a different arena. Something she’ll have to get used to.
Swaney, BB: Ooooh, really pretty mount from the springboard onto the end of the beam there. Triple series, saves that second layout somehow like an absolute pro. Switch leap to split jump, great 180 positions there. Bhs 1.5, stuck! Razorbacks are on fire!
8:52pm: Nguyen, FX: Some big score over for Arkansas, it sounds like. Front double full to sissone, impeccable. Switch ring to switch half, lovely there too. Y turn to single turn, just adding to the elegance. Goes out of bounds (OOB) on her final pass?? Gators are having some issues on floor tonight.
Weaver, BB: Bhs loso loso, really patient with that last layout and doesn’t move a muscle as she finally sets that heel down. Switch to straddle, strong positions in the air there. Roundoff 1.5, another stick! I told y’all Arkansas could still be a threat…
Baumann, FX: Double wolf turn to open, nice and steady. 1.5 to front full to open, dead on. Let’s hope she can keep that up. Switch side to straddle jump, super high amplitude on those. Double back, almost keeps a two-foot stick but just takes the step there at the end, still showing amazing control. Gators needed this reset!
8:58pm: Hambrick, BB: Full turn, very elegant form on that. Bhs loso, nice and steady, some knee bend. Switch to switch half, does not meet 180 on the switch half. Beat jump to straddle 3/4, has to take a bend at the hips to stay on. Cartwheel gainer full is stuck!
Wong, FX: Double arabian, a little deep into her knees still but pulls the stag out of it just fine. Dance series is gorgeous. Back half to front full, good control and clean form as always. That’ll be another great one for the Gators.
9:01pm: Flatley, BB: Gorgeous oversplit mount. Really giving us the fierce attitude. Front aerial to bhs loso, oop, she’s off! Immediately hops back up, works through her dance. L turn to immediate split jump, love that combination. Bhs 1.5 dismount, maybe a little adjustment on the landing.
Thomas, FX: DLO to open, amplitude incredible as always, hops out into the lunge rather than stepping back this week, though. Dance series is much better this week, nice and high and precise. Front full front lay is soooo clean and crisp, love that. Signature butterfly, oversplit, into the ending pose – she is such a star.
9:05pm: William, BB exh: Love seeing her get this nod after earning Freshman of the Week in the SEC last week. Bhs loso, nice and straight on the beam. Switch to straddle 1/4, that’s solid. Front aerial, looked like she was going to connect but thought better of it at the end. Full turn, bobble there. Roundoff 1.5 twist, little deep in the knees and has to take a step back.
Hurd, FX exh: Front lay to front full to open, quick and clean in that twisting element. Switch ring to switch half, lovely. Switch ring half, could not see the angle on her back foot at all to see if it was good or not. Double pike to finish, chest down on the landing, but that might be her best floor to date! Good for her!
AFTER THREE: UF 148.275, ARK 147.925
Scoring is just a bit all over the place tonight, but it is true that Florida gave up some ground on floor. Not on pace for a 198 anymore.
A huge crowd of 11,000+ in Bud Walton tonight! That’s enormous! What a great turnout for Arkansas, kudos to Jordyn Wieber and co. for building the hype for this program.
9:17pm: Last one! Let’s see what the Gators can do on beam!
Blakely, BB: Front aerial to bhs, solid. Switch leap to switch half to beat jump, nice and patient with that. Gainer full dismount, just a little hop there. A solid start for the Gators!
Jones, FX: Front double full to open, super clean in her twisting form. Switch ring to switch half for her dance series, doesn’t get nearly the ring position that Nguyen and Hurd do, but alas. 1.5 to front lay, controlled there as well. She’ll do three passes! That’s becoming rarer and rarer with the code changes this year. A good start for Arkansas as well!
9:20pm: Richards, BB: Bhs loso, a little wiggle in place but stays calm. Switch half to beat, some feet there. Bhs 1.5, little hop forward there. She looks so much more comfortable up there than she has in past weeks, you love to see it. Not trying for perfection, but going up there and being normal, it’s exactly what Rowland has been asking of them.
9:22pm: Lovett, FX: A music issue here, she’s having to wait a few minutes. Here she goes now. DLO to open, she really flies on that! Double back for her second pass, overcooks it a little and slides into her lunge. Dance series in the corner is clean, nice and high on the Popa. Front lay front full for her final pass, and the crowd goes WILD! Razorbacks are having a blast this rotation.
9:25pm: Lazzari, BB: Bhs loso loso, doesn’t even take the full length of the beam, incredible. Switch to split, nice and clean, great positions in the air. Front aerial is dead on! Full turn, calm and collected. Bhs 1.5 dismount, little hop back. Gators still figuring out these dismounts is hurting their scores overall, they’re going to have to dial those in before postseason for sure.
Smith, FX: A step-themed routine! Love that! Front through to double tuck, good control on that landing. Switch side to Popa is good in the air, a little bouncy on the landing. Double pike to finish, two foot stick! Chest was a little low though, so they may not go as big for that score as we expect.
9:29pm: DiCello, BB: Candle mount is gorgeous as always, great extension. Double wolf turn, nice and steady. Switch to split jump, great toe point all the way through. Bhs loso, straight on. Front aerial, little lean but uses her choreography to lock it in. BHs gainer full, sticks it! The first stick for the Gators on beam and the best routine so far, I think!
She earns a 9.95!! Huge!
9:31pm: Williams, FX: Full in, wow! Big amplitude on that and control on the landing was decent too. 1.5 to front lay, clean through that. Oh, she does the worm! That’s fun. Switch side to Popa, clean positions on those. Double tuck to finish, high and controlled – that’s going to be a big score!
9:33pm: Wong, BB: Switch to split leap, lovely extension through both. Bhs loso, nice and floaty. Front aerial to beat, so crisp on that connection. Roundoff double full is stuck this week!! That will be a HUGE score for Florida.
She gets another perfect 10.0!! Two in one night for the sophmore!
9:35pm: Flatley, FX: Triple full to open, gets RIDICULOUS air on that and lands perfectly upright. Showing off her flexibility and fierceness in this choreography. Front double full for her second pass, has to take a stutter step back to steady herself, she came up a little short. 1.5 to front lay to finish, just floats it in on that last element. Another solid score for the Gymbacks.
9:37pm: Thomas, BB: Split mount is gorgeous as usual. One-arm bhs to loso, solid. Beat to korbut is clean. Aerial 1.5 twist dismount, little shuffle there.
Price, FX: DLO to open, very nice! Good control on the landing, just a little bounce in place. Switch side to Popa, gets big amplitude on those. 1.5 to front pike, great control there! Really working the crowd in this choreo. Double pike to close, lands totally upright, lunge is fine. That’ll be a huge score as well!
9:41pm: Taylor, BB exh: Front toss, solid. Bhs loso, and she’s off. Bummer. Still, glad to see her getting this nod tonight. Full turn is a little overcooked but stays on. Switch leap to switch leap, very short of 180 on the second one. Bhs gainer full is stuck! Good to see her back out there after the Achilles tear last year.
9:43pm: Sedlacek, FX exh: Full in to open, nice! Dance series looks clean. Roundoff 1.5 to front lay, had to kinda yank that layout around, the second element in a series should always rise higher than the first if done right. A little off on her choreo, has to restart it, oops. Little short on her double tuck to close. Still, that full in is a good option if she can figure out the rest of that routine.
FINAL: UF 197.875, ARK 197.4
Richards wins vault with a 9.925, Wong wins bars and beam with her pair of 10.0s, and Williams and Thomas tie for floor at 9.95. That earns Wong the AA crown with a massive 39.775, with Thomas just behind at 39.7.
A massive away score like this puts Florida in a great position going into NQS in a few weeks. They still have yet to really put together a completely clean meet, with tonight’s issues on floor being most concerning, but I think they’re still missing some key pieces in some of the lineups, so things will still be in flux over the next meet or two.
Thanks for joining us tonight and bearing with me during my brief technical difficulties! We’ll see you back here next week for Link to Pink vs. Missouri.