LIVE BLOG: No. 1 Florida at No. 6 Alabama

It’s the final week of SEC competition prior to the conference championship, and what a way to finish, with a top-6 matchup that will decide the regular season champion. Don’t be fooled: No matter how much the ESPN crew hypes up the possibility of Alabama pulling the upset, Florida is the clear favorite here. But weirder things have happened in college gymnastics, and Alabama has been surging lately. The Crimson Tide would love to take advantage of any errors from the top-ranked team on Senior Night, but the Gators’ errors this season have been few and far between. Regardless of outcome, this meet will display some absolutely amazing gymnastics.

Tonight Alabama is honoring its two seniors, all arounder Lexi Graber and beam leadoff Alonza Klopfer. Sophomore Luisa Blanco and freshman Shania Adams should also be in the all around. Other top contributors for the Crimson Tide are sophomores Makarri Doggette and Mati Waligora and junior Shallon Olsen. I’ll be watching to see who makes the vault lineup: Kaylee Quinn has peaked at a 9.950 but did not compete last week.

For the Gators, every single gymnast has the potential to have a highlight performance, but of course we have to start with Trinity Thomas who scored two perfect 10.0s last week against Auburn. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more perfect scores from her tonight. Senior Alyssa Baumann has now competed bars two meets in a row (scoring 9.925 and 9.900) so I’ll be watching to see if she makes the lineup once again. Florida has had five gymnasts compete all around at least once this season, so the depth on this team is difficult to comprehend. No matter who is in the lineup this team is capable of going 49.500+ on every single event. This feels like a meet where we should just sit back, relax and enjoy watching greatness unfold.

The meet kicks off at 7:30pm CT (8:30pm ET) on SECN+. Follow along with live scores here.

Breaking News: Trinity Thomas will NOT compete tonight following a “slight ankle injury” during warm-ups. So this one just got even more interesting! Hope she recovers quickly and can compete at conference champs in two weeks.

Rotation 1: Alabama VT, Florida UB

It’s 8:33 and my stream says “Your event is about to begin, please stand by” so that’s fun!

Okay the stream finally started at 8:35. Whew!

Adams VT: Y-full, so not going for all six 10.0 SV vaults tonight. A little pikey and a small hop back. 9.800

Richards UB: Maloney with a lot of leg separation, good bail handstand. Handstands look okay. DLO with leg separation, step forward. 9.700

Olsen VT: Double twist, lands it low and has to take a large hop forward. 9.775

Gallentine UB: Almost went over on first handstand but controls it. Maloney to Pak are both clean. Nice half pirouette on the low bar! DLO has good form with a small step back.

Waligora VT: Y-1.5 doesn’t get a ton of height but has good distance. Cross step forward on the landing. 9.850

Lazzari UB: Beautiful handstand! Tkatchev is clean, as is her Pak. Another nice pirouette on the low bar so Florida is the only team allowed to do those. FTDT with a hop back. 9.825

Blanco VT: Beautiful Y-1.5, stuck landing. She’s thrilled! 9.925

Skaggs UB: Huge Tkatchev, gorgeous Pak. Beautiful handstands right on top of the bar. Some leg separation on the DLO and a tiny hop back. 9.900

Graber VT: Huge Y-1.5, a ton of amplitude. She takes a fairly large step forward on the landing. 9.875

Baumann UB: Beautiful straddled Jaeger, bail handstand not perfect but still pretty clean. DLO is too low and she falls forward. [crying emoji] 9.200

Quinn VT: Good Y-1.5, squatty landing with a small hop forward. 9.850

Schoenherr UB: Blind half to straddled Jaeger, goes slightly past vertical on the next handstand. Hits her last handstand perfectly though. Late pirouette into her double front half dismount, stuck. Not a perfect routine but still gorgeous. 9.925

After 1: Alabama 49.300, Florida 49.075

Well well well, this is not what any of us expected. Vault has been a minor weakness for Alabama but they came out of the gate swinging, while the Gators struggled a bit on one if their best events (not that they have a weak event). It isn’t just a lack of Trinity, either; perhaps they are a bit rattled by her injury during warmups? I have a feeling they’ll come back strong in the next rotation.

Rotation 2: Florida VT, Alabama UB

Foberg VT: Y-full, a little leg separation in the air and a hop in place on the landing. 9.850

Waligora UB: Blind change to straddled Jaeger, loses her momentum after the catch and has to take an extra swing. Short on her bail handstand. FTDLO dismount with a small hop. 9.350

Lazzari VT: Very clean Y-full, opens it up nicely and sticks it. Wow! 9.900

Graber UB: Gienger with some leg separation on the catch. Nice bail handstand. FTDT with some form issues and a lean-y college stick. 9.825

Skaggs VT: Another great Y-full, clean in the air and stuck. 9.900

Machado UB: Maloney and Pak both with leg separation. Nice handstands, though. A little late on the full pirouette into the double tuck dismount, which is stuck. 9.875

Schoenherr VT: Y-1.5 is clean in the air but she has too much momentum and has to take a hop forward, then leans forward again while saluting. 9.850

Adams UB: Beautiful Maloney to Pak, nice handstands. Van Leeuwen is clean, too! Full pirouette is a little late going into the double tuck but not as much as Machado’s. 9.925

Reed VT: Huge Y-1.5, so much distance! She has to take a small hop forward. 9.900

Blanco UB: Maloney to Pak, legs glued together. Great half pirouette on the low bar, she’s allowed to do that too. FTDT with a small foot movement on the landing. Great routine. 9.950

Richards VT: Y-full, clean in the air with a small hop in place. 9.825

Doggette UB: Huge Tkatchev into a Pak, loses momentum on her cast on the low bar and has to try again going into the pirouette. Nice DLO with a small step. 9.750

After 2: Alabama 98.625, Florida 98.475

Alabama missed an opportunity to expand on its lead in that rotation, instead allowing Florida to cut into it by 0.075. But having to count a 9.750 and still going 49.325 is impressive! This team is on fire tonight, but Florida isn’t going to go down without a fight.

Rotation 3: Alabama BB, Florida FX

Klopfer BB: Well-controlled wolf turn to open. Front aerial BHS, solid. Beat jump to straddle half, clean. Cat leap to side aerial. RO 1.5 dismount with a hop. I don’t think I saw a single wobble that entire routine! 9.875

Skaggs FX: Rudi to split jump to open. Beautiful leaps. Back 1.5 to front layout, very clean. 9.850

Trinity is sitting on the sidelines looking fine, not even icing her ankles anymore. So hopefully that’s a good sign for SECs?

Waligora BB: BHS LOSO, a little hesitant but no visible wobbles. Side aerial, solid. Split jump to tuck full with a lean. RO 1.5, underrotated with a step back. 9.825

Lazzari FX: Double pike to open, bouncy landing out of it. Back 1.5 to front lay to a jump, has a lot of momentum but controls it. Double tuck to finish, nice! 9.900

Adams BB: Split leap to front aerial, pretty! BHS LOSO and falls right off, has no chance to save it. Double wolf turn is a little wobbly. Switch leap to beat jump, beautiful. Back 1.5 dismount, stuck. 9.350

Johnson-Scharpf FX: Double Arabian, wow! Back 1.5 to front lay, short and has to bend her knees to get it around. Double tuck to finish. 9.850

Graber BB: BHS back layout to two feet, solid! Switch split to straddle 3/4 with a well-disguised check. Front toss to scale into her gainer full dismount, leans forward on the landing but holds the stick. 9.825

Richards FX: DLO to open, underrotated and has to take a step forward. Back 1.5 to front lay, walks out a bit. One leg was a little low on her straddle jump. Double tuck to finish, super high! 9.825

Doggette BB: BHS LOSO, solid. Beat jump to switch half, not sure if it was fully 180. Side aerial to back full dismount, stuck but a little lean-y. 9.875

Reed FX: Huge double layout, perfectly controlled landing. Front lay to Rudi, another good landing. Loses control of her leaps a little bit. Double pike to finish, wow. Great routine. The only issue I noticed was the leaps. 9.950 is well deserved.

Blanco BB: Beautiful front aerial. Small check after her full turn but she finessed it. BHS LOSO LOSO, maybe another small check but finesses it as well. Switch split to beat jump, very clean. Double twist dismount, stuck! 9.925

Baumann FX: Very high double tuck to open, good landing. Back 1.5 to front full, steps a little sideways on the landing but I’m not sure if that was intentional? Gorgeous leaps, those need a heart-eyes emoji. Double pike is maybe a little underrotated…maybe? She managed to avoid a step forward so not sure if that’ll actually be a deduction. 9.975 gives Florida the lead!

After 3: Florida 148.000, Alabama 147.950

This is turning into a nail-biter…Alabama did well to recover from the early-lineup fall but didn’t score enough 9.9s to keep pace with Florida’s 49.525 on floor. Can the Gators keep up the momentum going into beam?

Rotation 4: Florida BB, Alabama FX

Richards BB: BHS LOSO LOSO with a small check. Switch split to straddle jump, nice. Side aerial to back full dismount after a long hesitation. Sticks the landing. 9.875

Mitchell FX: Double pike to open, slightly overpowered and scoots back a bit. Might have been a little short of 180 on one of her leaps. Front tuck through to double back, very deep squat on the landing but her knee didn’t touch. 9.750

Skaggs BB: Nice wolf turn! Switch split to split jump, gorgeous. BHS LOSO, right on. She looks so confident. Slight check after her front aerial but she covers it well. Cat leap to switch side. Side aerial to back full, stuck! They’re doing the 10 chant… 9.925

Gaskins FX: Nice DLO to open, soft knees though. Y turn to wolf full. Switch leap to switch half, not a great angle but I think she got to 180. Double tuck with a low landing and has to hop forward. 9.750

Lazzari BB: BHS LOSO LOSO, slight lean at the end. Beautiful leaps. Side aerial to back full, shuffles feet slightly on the landing. 9.900

Olsen FX: Double double with a low landing…today is not Bama’s day on floor. Her back leg is a little low on her leaps. Front tuck through to double tuck, clean landing. 9.675

Baumann BB: BHS LOSO is solid to open. Leaps looked solid, as did the front aerial. RO 1.5 dismount, she almost sticks it but ends up with a small step back. 9.850

Klopfer FX: Clean double tuck to open. A little short of 180 on her first leap. Back 1.5 to front lay, solid. Double pike is slightly squatty on the landing but she controls it well. 9.900

Clapper BB: BHS LOSO LOSO with a small check. Switch split to split jump, clean. Side aerial to back full dismount with a slight hop back. 9.850 clinches the meet for UF.

Blanco FX: Double pike very clean in the air but slides a back a bit on the landing. Pretty leaps. Well-controlled double tuck. Front full to front lay, low on the second flip so she loses her form a bit. 9.900

Schoenherr BB: First ever beam routine for her! Front aerial to beat jump to open, very nice. BHS LOSO is solid. RO 1.5 with a small hop forward. Everyone is celebrating with her…and now she’s hugging everyone without putting her mask on. Oops. Happy for her though! 9.875

Graber FX: FTDT to open, very high and controlled. Front tuck through to double pike to finish her senior night. More hugging without a mask on! 9.975, wow!

FINAL: Florida 197.425, Alabama 197.225

Wow, so much drama tonight! It was the result we all expected, though perhaps a bit lower-scoring than we would’ve predicted. Alabama gave it away in the end on floor with only a 49.275 but should come away from this meet with more confidence that they can compete with any team in the country. Florida walks away with the SEC regular season title, but the real prize comes in two weeks with the official conference championship meet.

Individual winners:

VT: Luisa Blanco (Alabama) 9.925

UB: Luisa Blanco (Alabama) 9.950

BB: Luisa Blanco (Alabama) / Megan Skaggs (Florida) 9.925

FX: Lexi Graber (Alabama) / Alyssa Baumann (Florida) 9.975

AA: Luisa Blanco (Alabama) 39.700

Live blog by Jenna King

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