The road to the championship starts here, Gators! Florida Gymnastics will compete tonight in Pittsburgh for a berth in the regional final on Sunday, where teams will have the opportunity to qualify to the national championships.
Their opponents are Arizona State, who has had an excellent season in the Pac-12; Maryland, who has been making steady improvements year after year in the Big 10; and Penn State, who has the momentum of having won the play-in meet in order to be here tonight.
The top two teams tonight will advance to the regional final on Sunday to compete against California and Michigan State, who advanced from the afternoon session earlier today. For more on how that meet went, you can check out my livetweet thread that started during Rotation 2:
As far as setting expectations, Florida is the heavy favorite here, with Arizona State also expected to qualify to Sunday’s regional final. Still, stranger things have happened. The Gators can’t take anything for granted – every step toward the trophy is important.
Watch for unique vaults from Penn State, fun floor routines from Maryland, and precision on bars and floor from Arizona State. As far as the Gators, lineups are my biggest question mark – will a 6th 10.0 vault materialize from any of the various candidates? This will be a good litmus test for the rest of the season.
7:00pm: Meet is delayed a little bit due to an equipment issue during warmups, so we’re still working on introductions here. Take this time to look through my thread of warmup tweets if you haven’t seen them already:
Highlights include some gorgeous leaps from Rachel Baumann, Trinity Thomas in search of another perfect 10, Bri Edwards working hard for the stick, soome encouraging and a return to bar warmups for Savannah Schoenherr! Schoenherr will likely not compete tonight, but this was her first competition warmup since her injury, so the progress is encouraging to see.
7:12pm: We have about a minute of touch warmups left before things finally get started here. The Gators will start on beam, and based on the announcer’s information, lineup will stay the same as SECs – Blakely, Lazzari, DiCello, Thomas, Wong, and McCusker.
7:15pm: Here we goooooooooooooo!
Blakely, BB: She looks so calm and collected. Front aerial to bhs, very steady. Switch to switch half, strong 180 positions. Gainer full is stuck! A strong start for the Gators.
Lee, ASU FX: Little skid on the opening front double full. Last pass was solid though!
Lazzari, BB: Bhs loso loso, stays patient with it and doesn’t move at all, even though she might’ve been a little off center. Front aerial is so solid. Full turn is clean. Cartwheel gainer full, little hop back.
Brozowski, UMD UB: Bail a little floppy but does hit handstand. Sticks her dismount! Big hugs from coach afterward.
7:20pm: DiCello, BB: Candle mount looks great as usual. Lovely split positions in her dance series. Bhs loso, super steady. Gainer full dismount is stuck! Gator crowd goes wild.
Theodorou, ASU FX: Full in had some wild legs but well landed. 1.5 to front lay, clean.
Piedrahita from PSU just nailed her vault!
Thomas, BB: Switch leap mount, excellent as usual. Full turn is clean and quick. One arm bhs to loso, dead on, snaps her arms down confidently. Beat to korbut, very nice. Side aerial back 1.5, little hop back. I know she’s mad, but HC Jenny Rowland is not and immediately wraps her in a hug. They’re trying to stay in that “normal” bubble.
Wong, BB: Split leap to switch is fabulous. Bhs loso, little lean to the side, covers well I think. Front aerial to beat, a little hesitant in that connection. Tried to stick, swung her arms and ended up taking a crossover step.
White, ASU FX: Front double full was solid. Middle combo pass hit. I’m enjoying this flamenco/matador-inspired choreography. Front full to front lay was super clean.
7:28pm: McCusker, BB: Double wolf is relatively clean, no wild wobbly arms or anything, but I think that’s her calm and confidence masking what could’ve been worse. Series is strong. Super clean on the leap series. Gainer full is stuck! Rowland runs out from behind the judging table, absolutely thrilled. Solid start for the Gators!
Scharf, ASU FX: I missed her first pass but the cheers made it sound like a hit. Double pike to close is lovely, great amplitude.
AFTER ONE: UF 49.575, ASU 49.425, UMD 49.275, PSU 49.0
Overall, a strong rotation! I know Thomas will want to figure out that dismount, and Wong has got to get that series under control – she’s had a lean of some kind in the last few meets.
7:39pm: Rotation 2!
Nguyen, FX: Front double full to split jump, she FLOATED that one tonight. Wow. Switch ring to switch half, maybe a tad bouncy on the landing. Y turn is gorgeous as always. 1.5 to front lay is so clean. She looks pretty thrilled as she runs off the floor!
Baumann, FX: Still disagree with her being this early. She could get such higher scores if she went later. 1.5 to front full is well controlled. Ridiculously high switch side to straddle jump as usual – even more gorgeous in person, I promise. Double pike to close it out, she stumbles back a little – couldn’t see if she went OOB or not. Folks watching the broadcast say her heel was over the line, but I didn’t see a line judge? We’ll see what happens there.
Former Gator Gabbie Gallentine just nailed her DLO dismount on bars for PSU!
Richards, FX: DLO to open, it’s a good one! Just pops it out into a lunge. A little bouncy coming out of the leap series but straddle positions looked good in the air. 1.5 to front full, AC Adrian Burde is happy with it, he fist pumps as she finishes up. A good reset for the Gators.
McClure, UMD BB: Gorgeous switch leap to straddle 1/4, lovely extension. Cat leap to front toss to beat jump, good connection there. Front gainer 1.5 dismount?? That’s super cool!
7:49pm: Wong, FX: Dos Santos to stag jump, travels a little backward. Really focusing on her extension in her choreography tonight, I saw her working on it with VC Jeremy James Miranda in warmups. Leap series is lovely and high. Whip half to front full, single step forward, very controlled. Should be a fabulous score. Team is cheering for 10s now, as is the crowd! Burde’s hands were over his head fist pumping as he walked back to the corral after her last pass – that’s big emotion for him.
Thomas, FX: She looks so dialed in right now. DLO to open, it’s another epic one, into her leap series… and she has to stop. Oh god. She’s walking off on her own power, but I don’t know what happened. Coach Rowland has been in and out of the locker room, and they’ve partially shut the doors to give her some privacy while trainers take a look at her.
7:57pm: DiCello, FX: Let’s see if the freshman can shake it off. Front double full to open, little crossover step but that’s okay. They just need a hit right now. Leap series is clean. Double wolf is fine. 1.5 to front lay, nails it. That’s clutch.
Donabedian, Temple indiv. FX: Rudi to loso, super floaty. Gators are cheering super loud for her through this, I hope that gives them something to focus on. Her dance is so intricate, lots of floor work and flexibility. Front double full to close, a little shuffle back but she makes it work.
AFTER TWO: UF 98.975, ASU 98.65, UMD 98.45, PSU 98.325
This team has faced adversity before, they know what to do in situations like this. I would guess Clark and Edwards will both go – I didn’t see Nguyen ever warm up a complete Y1.5 during warmups earlier, but we’ll see.
8:11pm: Rotation 3! Gators are holding Thomas out for the time being.
I missed Wong’s vault in the hubbub, she earns a 9.85!
Richards, VT: Y1.5, looked like a stick from here!!
Blakely, VT: Y1.5, hop forward. Little bouncy, but that’s okay right now.
LeBlanc, UMD FX: Front double full is good to start. Loses some form as she goes through her combination pass. Dance series looked like she was losing it in the middle but she pulled it out!
DiCello, VT: Y1.5, that sucker was stuck cold! WOW!
Edwards, VT: Yfull, just a little slide back. Man, she DRILLED one in warmups, I was hoping she could replicate it.
Komoroski, UMD FX: Opening pass is solid! Switch ring is clean… switch ring half is crunched on the back.
Clark, VT: Yfull, clean in the air, had to swim for it but I think she did have to adjust. I don’t have the greatest angles on vault landings from here, sorry!
8:19pm: Osterhout, UMD FX: Double back to open was solid. A little shy of 180 on some of her splits in her dance series. Double pike to close is even cleaner than her double back! Team goes wild!
Silberman, UMD FX: Opening pass is solid! Not a whole lot of choreography in this for my taste, but she’s working with it. Front double full to finish is really excellent too.
Johnston, PSU BB: Leap series is clean, into a side aerial, nice! Roundoff 1.5 dismount, and she sticks it. PSU having a really good meet over there amidst everything.
8:25pm: McClure, FX: This disco routine is everything! Double tuck to open is nice and high. Layout to Rudi, love that, very quick twisting. Layout to front full to close it out, nails it. That’ll be a great score for Maryland.
Schugman, Temple indiv. FX: 1.5 to front full, some knee bend on the second element but she handles it. She’s really playing it up, especially in front of the Maryland corral, they’re all cheering for her so loudly! Double pike is a little short as she finishes, but she dances right out of it like it’s no biggie. Their whole corral is having a party out here for her though!
AFTER THREE: UF 148.35, ASU 148.05, UMD 147.75, PSU 147.475
8:37pm: Rotation 4!
Blakely, UB: Maloney is big! Rest is clean… sticks her dismount! Big cowboy in the legs though.
Nguyen, UB: Maloney is clean, pak has the leg separation she’s had pretty much all season. DLO dismount is stuck!
Reeves, ASU BB: Full turn looked a little wild but no bobbles. Front aerial is lovely. Tucked 1.5 dismount, she sticks it. Sun Devils keeping it close here.
DiCello, UB: Ray is big! Pak looks clean, van Leeuwen solid. Sticks her full out dismount! Still those crooked knees though.
They give her the 10!!!! What a night for the freshman!
Wong, UB: Maloney to pak, super clean. Ooh, almost goes over the wrong way on a handstand on the low bar but pulls it back. van Leeuwen is great. Looked like a small adjustment on the dismount, but that’s okay.
McCusker, UB: Maloney to pak, lovely as usual. Last handstand looks solid from here. Stalder to double tuck, little hop but maybe the best the stalder has looked so far? Love that for her.
Richards, UB: Maloney to bail, some leg sep on the Maloney but bail was good. Last handstand looked great! DLO, big leg sep again but sticks it!
8:47pm: White, ASU BB: Bhs loso, dead on. Front aerial is solid too. Split to ring, positions looked good from here. Bhs 1.5 dismount is stuck!
Salcedo, PSU FX: Oh, this choreo is FUN. Switch leap into the corner is lovely. Punch double front! A little cowboyed, but well controlled as she lands. Bhs loso to fulfill the back tumbling requirement, I assume. Switch leap to straddle to front support, that’s fun. Combination pass to finish is solid too – that’s a great one for the Nittany Lions!
Scharf, ASU BB: Acro series, a little lean but covers well. Side somi, fine. Switch leap to split jump, looked a little shy of 180 on the second split. Sticks her dismount!
8:51pm: Herring, PSU FX: Double arabian to open, fantastic. This is another fun one! Held leg side somi, cool. Nice high leaps, good straddle positions. 1.5 to front lay, super clean there to finish out. That should be another great score for them.
FINAL: UF 197.875, ASU 197.525, PSU 196.825, UMD 196.675
Gators advance to the regional final!
Kayla DiCello also won a share of the VT, UB, and BB titles as well as the AA outright, and Leanne Wong won the FX title – talk about Gator power!
See you all back here at 5pm on Sunday night for more regionals action with the Gators – make sure to follow me on Twitter @mycluttereddesk to get all the updates from warmups ahead of time, any press conferences they hold throughout the weekend, and results around the country at other regionals.