It’s the top meet in the country this week – and maybe all season – as the Gators face longtime championship rival Oklahoma!

Competing in the top-ranked meet in the nation isn’t anything new for Florida; they’ve had that honor twice already this season. But there’s something different about competing against Oklahoma that will challenge the Gators in a way they haven’t been challenged yet – they come into this meet the underdogs.

Oklahoma has put on dominant performance after dominant performance this season, reaching a season high of 198.575 last week in its fifth straight score of over 198. In comparison, Florida has only scored over 198 twice this year, with the highest a 198.35.

That said, Florida still has not put together what head coach Jenny Rowland would call a “complete meet.” At a media availability earlier this week, Rowland shared that that was something this team was still striving for and had not hit yet. These Gators have put together several strong rotations, but never a complete 100% hit on all four events and all twenty-four routines. If they can figure it out tonight in Norman, they might have a chance at beating the Sooners.

Tonight will see some of the highest-quality gymnastics that fans will be treated to throughout the season, as there are three or more athletes on both teams ranked in the top 10 on at least one event. In the all-around, three of the top ten in the nation are Gators: Trinity Thomas at No. 3, Leanne Wong at No. 8, and Kayla DiCello at No. 10. Thomas is also T-6 on vault, T-1 on bars, T-8 on beam, and No. 2 on floor. Wong is T-4 on bars, and DiCello is T-4 on beam. Aside from these stellar three, Sloane Blakely’s confidence has been rising lately – watch for her potentially on all four, but if she’s dialed in, her vault and floor will especially killer. Victoria Nguyen also has some gorgeous lines on her three events, and her unique dance elements are sure to wow on beam and floor.

For the Sooners, Jordan Bowers leads their all-around efforts at No. 5, as well as T-6 on vault and T-4 on beam. Kat LeVasseur is T-4 on vault, Audrey Davis T-4 on bars, and Faith Torrez No. 6 on floor. Apart from these four, Olivia Trautman is one to watch – she struggles with nagging injuries every year, but as postseason approaches, she slides into lineups one by one. Ragan Smith is also a force on her three events, but beam is her specialty – she has three 10.0s on the event in her career.

One last element that could boost the Gators over the Sooners tonight is the return of a few injured athletes. Rachel Baumann’s return on vault would give the Gators six 10.0 start-value vaults, which Oklahoma has had for awhile now. Savannah Schoenherr should also be nearing a return after breaking her foot the night before season began, with the team needing her most and her likeliest ready routine both being on bars. Either of them stepping into the lineups with ready routines would be major boons to Florida, but both would really give the Gators an edge they haven’t yet had this season.

It all starts at 9pm ET on ESPN2, but if you can’t find a TV or don’t have access, we’ll have all the action for you minute by minute here on our liveblog!

8:59pm: Banner under the basketball game is saying first vault at 9:05, so we will be patient!

Not sure who Sam has in the arena but I trust her to know – this is VERY curious, especially against Oklahoma. However, it’s not all about winning… a strong away score will be good enough for this team to stay in a strong seeding position for NQS, and they’ll know it’s not a 1:1 comparison come postseason if they don’t put up their top athletes tonight.

9:05pm: No lies were told! Here we go!

Sievers, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, a little slow as she twists but she just drops it into a stick. Feet a little bit apart, but they are starting off ridiculously hot.

Blakely, UB: Maloney to pak salto, some leg separation on the Maloney. Solid final handstand work. Double front, DRILLS it! That’s the way to start this competition!

Stern, VT: The way she used to go much later in this lineup and now she’s only second… speaks to the quality of the rest of the vaults in this group. Yurchenko 1.5, great distance, little hop forward.

Nguyen, UB: A little shy on the opening handstand – Maloney is pasted together but some leg sep on the pak. Last handstand also looked short? DLO, saluted herself into a slide backward.

LeVasseur, VT: Y1.5, another little slide forward, huge distance, maybe a little off to one side?

DiCello, UB: Ray is HUGE, good toe point. Great handstand there. Pak is strong. Low bar work is solid. van Leeuwen looks good, just the dismount now. Full out, just that little step on the landing.

9:11pm: Trautman, VT: Only her second competitive vault this year – Y1.5, a little knee bends in the air, maybe crossed ankles, but she sticks it! Aaaaaaand we have our first 10.0. The first vault from Sievers was superior, in my opinion.

Thomas, UB: Maloney to pak, super clean. van Leeuwen, excellent. DRILLS her DLO! The handstand angles are impossible to tell from these camera angles, but Kathy is gushing about her handstands, so I’m assuming it was another banger.

Bowers, VT: Y1.5, very clean, little hop forward. They are really nailing these.

Wong, UB: Maloney to pak salto, super patient with it. Legs glued together on the van Leeuwen. DLO, I think she maybe showed enough control to get the stick? She was so excited though, she saluted and started jumping around more quickly than I would’ve liked to see.

Davis, VT: Y1.5, some major knees as she blocks, cleans it up as she comes in for the landing, little hop.

McCusker, UB: Maloney to pak salto, just gorgeous. The extension and toe point – incredible. Stalder to double tuck, really makes sure they saw her stick. That’ll be another great score!

We are really off to the races, y’all!

AFTER ONE: OU 49.6, UF 49.525

9:24pm: Rotation 2 time!

Richards, VT: Y1.5, SHE STICKS IT! That’s the best vault she’s ever done, holy cow!

Sievers, UB: Transitions look super clean, she’s got such a patient swing. DLO dismount is stuck! A stick machine tonight, she’s 2 for 2.

Wong, VT: Yhalf on, pike half off – not as good as last week but better than most of the rest of this season. Clean in the air, decent body position on the landing, little slide back.

Fletcher, UB: Piked Jaeger is gorgeous! Pak whips a little bit. Solid low bar handstand. Short on the last high bar one though. Little scoot back as she saluted out of her full in dismount.

Blakely, VT: Y1.5, big distance but a big hop and off to the side. I would rather her do that than underdo it like she has previously, but hopefully that can be the score they drop.

Victoria Nguyen will be debuting her Y1.5 at the end of the lineup though!!

Trautman, UB: Super clean transitions, legs just glued together. DLO dismount just floats down into a stick. She is an absolute rock for this team, incredible how she comes in just to finish the season like this.

DiCello, VT: Y1.5, just a little hop in place! Great distance, some knees in the air, it’s more visible in slow-mo.

Smith, UB: Great Ray to open. Pak floats down nicely. Low bar handstand is a little funky, but final one is much better. DLO dismount, little hop.

9:31pm: Thomas, VT: Okay, here we go! Needs to be another good one tonight. Y1.5, single step forward but it’s more than shoulder width. Big amplitude though.

Bowers, UB: Great opening handstand work. Jaeger is fantastic, nice and high and pointed toes all the way through. Pak salto is clean. Maybe a little shy on the low bar handstand, final handstand looked okay. Full in dismount is stuck!

Nguyen, VT: Her vault debut! She misses the board and doesn’t have time to recover, can’t block, goes end over end over the board. Clearly stunned, but is able to get up and walk away on her own power. She may be on concussion protocol after that.

Davis, UB: A gorgeous routine, but I wasn’t paying enough attention, I was worried about Nguyen. Slow-mo showing off her excellent handstand work and her stuck dismount.

AFTER TWO: OU 99.125, UF 99.05

Even despite not being as dialed in on vault as Oklahoma, Florida didn’t lose any ground on that rotation. The bigger concern is going to be if Nguyen can’t compete on beam or floor if she had planned to – Florida will have to regroup and change things up. They have the depth to do so, but it’s always a little jarring to watch a teammate have a miss like that and then have to step in last-minute. Rowland did confirm that Nguyen is thankfully okay physically, but we’ll see what her mental situation is after this.

9:43pm: Rotation 3 time!

Dunn, BB: Fun opening choreo into a forward roll on the beam. Triple series – back handspring, back handspring, layout stepout (bhs bhs loso), very solid. Dance series is clean, nice 180-degree positions in the air. Gainer full off the side is stuck! A great leadoff, as she has been for quite a while for the Sooners.

Clapper, FX: Looks like lots of athletes resting on floor this week. Opens with a Rudi to layout-stepout (loso), takes it riiiight to the corner. Switch side to Popa, not super amplitude but plenty clean and shouldn’t incur a deduction. 1.5 to front layout, has to really pull that second element around. Good for her first competitive routine all season, but that will not be a postseason option, I can’t imagine.

Trautman, BB: Bhs loso for her series, nicely done. Cat leap to switch side, little bobble there. Front toss, super solid. Roundoff 1.5 twist, has to step on the landing. It’s good to know they’re not absolutely killing every detail here.

Brubach, FX: Front lay to Rudi, big slide back on the landing. A little bouncy coming out of her dance series, but great split positions in the landing. Double tuck to close it out, much better on this one. Another solid outing, but again, not what they’ll want for post.

9:50pm: Bowers, BB: Fun opening choreography low on the beam as she gets started, showcasing her flexibility and different angles across the beam. Bhs loso series, dead on. Split leap, switch half, a little awkward. Roundoff double full dismount, stuck! Had to squat for it but held it fast.

Baumann, FX: Double wolf turn, quick and steady to get her started. 1.5 to front full, great control as she dances right out of it. Switch side to straddle jump, incredible amplitude and oversplit, travels maybe a little bit. So sharp in all her choreography here. Double pike, bounces OOB – just one foot, but that is not ideal.

Davis, BB: Full turn to start, clean and quick. Bhs loso, some soft knees and a balance check. Front aerial, much better there. Ring jump, definitely could’ve used more angle as she threw her head back. Roundoff double full is stuck though! That’s a way to cap off a routine.

Richards, FX: DLO to open, a little bouncy on the landing but stayed in bounds. That may be the meet right there unless Oklahoma gets bouncy too. 1.5 to front full, much better here. I expect Richards to be a possibility for postseason, but she will want a cleaner routine than that.

9:58pm: Torrez, BB: Wolf jump to open. Side aerial loso and she’s off! Wow! That’s unusual for Oklahoma. Rest of the routine looks clean, dismount is stuck, but OU will need to drop this score to stay competitive.

Wong, FX: Piked double arabian, one of her best! Does connect the sissone this week. Dance series is lovely and precise. Love the balletic choreography in here, her dance training really shines through. Whip half to front full – that’s maybe her best routine this season? Amazing!

Smith, BB: Love her handstand mount sequence! Bhs loso, just lays it in, patient with it. Front aerial, bobbles there. Straddle 1/2 to immediate bhs swingdown/korbut, that’s great innovation there! Full turn is clean. Bhs gainer full stuck! Sooners will drop the fall.

Hurd, FX: Front lay to front full, solid control coming out of that. Switch ring to switch half, gorgeous. Switch ring half, it’s a good one. Double pike, it’s great but slings it out too far and just lands OOB. Other than that, maybe her strongest routine yet.

AFTER THREE: OU 148.6, UF 148.225

Yeah, barring a bunch of OOBs or a counting fall or start value issue from Oklahoma on floor, that’s the meet right there.

Glad it wasn’t just me! I can’t wait until she puts that routine together 100%, it’s going to score so well.

10:14pm: Last rotation!

Blakely, BB: Front aerial to bhs, super floaty, good for her. Switch to switch half to beat, maybe a little back leg on the half? Gainer full off the side is stuck! That’s a great way to reset after a rough floor.

Johnson, FX: Front lay to Rudi, maybe a little off axis as she twisted, but lands with plenty control. Dance series is clean. Double tuck to close is really short, she can’t really mask it at all.

Lazzari, BB: Triple series to open is just fantastic. Switch leap to split jump, lovely 180 positions there. Front aerial, just lays it in. Full turn is clean. Cartwheel to gainer full, lands in a deep squat but keeps the stick!

Davis, FX: Front double full to open, solid control coming out of it. Very precise with her dance series, wow. 1.5 to front full, clean twisting form throughout. Not in love with the choreography, she hits some really strange, sometimes awkward shapes, but it’s clearly the position she’s intending. But that’s personal preference.

DiCello, BB: Candle mount, excellent. Double wolf, BIG bobble in the second rotation but hangs on somehow. Switch leap to split jump, gorgeous extension in both. Bhs loso, lean to one side but recovers. Front aerial much better. Bhs gainer full off the side is stuck! Not her best, but lots of fight – we love to see that, especially in a freshman.

Fletcher, FX: Huge open double tuck to start, we love to see it. Front lay to front full, came up short but somehow stood it up? Talk about fight! Dance series nice and precise, great extension through her feet. 2.5 twist, super floaty, just a single step forward. Gorgeous.

10:25pm: Thomas, BB: Split leap mount. Switch leap to split leap, lovely. They’re playing Lift Me Up for her beam music, I kinda love it. One-arm bhs loso, little bobble there. Puts the front aerial to two feet back in, yes! Beat to korbut, solid. Side aerial 1.5, it’s stuck, but not her most polished routine. She’s clearly not thrilled with herself.

Sievers, FX: Full in to open, wow! Front through to double tuck, good control there as well. Really milking the choreography section here – that’s all that’s left in her routine, since she front-loads her tumbling. Another great one for OU.

Wong, BB: Switch leap to split leap, lovely through both. Just lays her series in, bhs loso. Full turn is steady. Front aerial to beat, quick connection there. Roundoff double full, she thought about fighting for the stick but decided just to take the step.

Torrez, FX: DLO to open, great control, does not move her front foot a bit. Dance series is clean, really floats down from that last element. Front through to double tuck, great amplitude as she finishes out. That’ll be a great score for the freshman.

McCusker, BB: Double wolf turn, much steadier than her teammate before her. Beat jump to front aerial, came in short, it looked like her foot slipped almost? Gets back up, nails her series! Switch leap to split leap, just gorgeous through those. Gainer full is stuck! With another chance next week, I think that could be a really incredible routine for the Gators.

Bowers, FX: Double pike to open is ENORMOUS and so crisp. Dance pass is excellent. Front double full to front tuck, almost sits it but somehow stands it up?? Oklahoma was not perfect tonight either – they are fallible. If Florida had had their proper floor lineup ready tonight, it might have been much, much closer.

FINAL: OU 197.95, UF 197.7

Wong wins the AA with a 39.675, Trautman takes vault with that perfect 10.0, bars goes to Thomas at 9.975, Bowers and Blakely tie for the beam title at 9.95, and Wong and Torrez tie for the floor crown also at 9.95.

Definitely not the meet we expected tonight, but I’ll have some thoughts late next weekend after Florida’s final regular season meet. I’ll be doing a regular season report card and talking about the most important points moving into postseason, so stick around! We’ll see you back here for the TWU quad meet next Sunday. Goodnight!

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