Greetings from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center! The last time I was here was two weeks before the 2020 season came to an abrupt end, and that meet coincidentally featured these same two teams facing off. It’s good to be back!
Alabama opened its season last week against Oklahoma and looked rough, with sub-49 performances on both vault and floor en route to a 195.875. However, a season ago the Crimson Tide started slow and didn’t score a 197 until its fifth meet, yet it still went on to win a surprise SEC championship. It’s probably too early to hit the panic button, especially if we see some improvement today. I’m particularly watching for Shania Adams to redeem herself after mistakes on beam and floor, and to see if Shallon Olsen makes an appearance after an unexplained absence last week. It would also be nice to see highly touted freshman Lilly Hudson make her debut.
Florida’s lineups will be under heavy scrutiny today after several surprise appearances in last week’s opener. I’m curious to see if Bri Edwards stays in the vault lineup permanently, as her beautifully flared Yurchenko full may be cleaner than several of the 10.0 start value options on the team. It’s not unusual for the Gators to play with lineups weekly during the first half of the season, especially when the roster is as deep and talented as this year’s. Also of note, Trinity Thomas is one vault 10.0 away from the gym slam (insert eyes emoji here).
The theme of today’s meet is Equality Night, which you can read all about in Florida’s meet preview. The action will start at 3 p.m. ET and can be viewed on ABC (!!!) or ESPN3 with Kathy Johnson-Clarke, Bart Conner and Samantha Peszek on the call. Stats can be found at Statsbroadcast.
We’re just about ready to get started! Lineups show Skaggs and Wong in the all around for UF, with no AAers for Bama. Lilly Hudson is indeed making her debut, on VT, BB and FX. Blanco will compete on all events but vault, with Doggette on all but floor. Thomas is out of beam but competing the other events, Blakely is out of vault, and Bri Edwards does indeed stay in the vault lineup!
Rotation 1: Florida VT, Alabama UB
Skaggs VT: Her usual clean Y-full, maybe a touch short with a small scoot forward? Definite leg separation on the block. 9.875
Gaskins UB: Ray caught a little close to the bar, handstands not as sharp as they can be. Nice floaty Pak. Double layout, stuck! 9.750
Edwards VT: Very nice laid out full, large-ish hop back. Hard to fault anything in the air on that vault, though on replay it looked slightly piked down. 9.775
Waligora UB: Blind change to straddle Jaeger to bail, all well-executed. Nice final handstand. Full twisting double layout with a hop back. 9.800
Schoenherr VT: Underrotates her 1.5 and has to take several squatty steps back to keep from falling. She hit several in warmups so that’s a disappointment. 9.625
Adams UB: A little short on first handstand, Maloney to Pak is nice. Catches the Van Leeuwen on her fingertips but follows it up with a beautiful handstand. Full turn to double tuck, stuck. 9.850
Reed VT: Beautiful Y-1.5, STUCK. Huge roar from the crowd and she looks thrilled! 9.975
Machado UB: Maloney to Pak, very gloaty. Good handstands, Van Leeuwen very nice as well. A little short on the full pirouette going into the double tuck, small slide back. 9.850
Wong VT: Y-1/2 on, pike 1/2 off. Lands it short and has to take a large hop forward. But it’s great to see her in the lineup. 9.725
Blanco UB: Holds her first handstand super long. Maloney to Pak is gorgeous. Full-twisting double tuck is stuck! 9.925
Thomas VT: Another stuck Y-1.5! She leaned slightly forward on the landing so I’m not sure if they’ll give her the 10…at least I wouldn’t. Apparently the judges disagree…it’s a 10, which gives her a gym slam!
Doggette UB: I missed the beginning due to Trinity 10 crowd celebrations but she stuck the DLO to finish and the rest looked clean. 9.925
AFTER ONE: Florida 49.350, Alabama 49.350
Well well well…you’d think with a 9.975 and a 10.000 on vault UF would be in the lead, but the trio of sub-9.8 scores held them back while Bama had a successful outing bars. Shout out to Makarri Doggette for keeping her cool and scoring a 9.925 while the crowd was roaring for Thomas’ 10!
Rotation 2: Alabama VT, Florida UB
Adams VT: Y-full, a little short with her chest down and has to take a step forward. 9.700
Blakely UB: A little short on first handstand, some feet issues on the Maloney, nice Pak. Beautiful last handstand, and another after the blind change into the dismount. Double front STUCK. Crowd roars again! 9.775
Hudson VT: Overpowers the Y-full and has to take a large step back, but clean in the air. 9.750
Skaggs UB: Beautiful Tkatchev and Pak, great handstands throughout. Double layout with clear leg separation even from the side where I’m sitting, she tries to sell the college stick but has to step forward out of it. 9.875
Olsen VT: Y-double, one of her better ones. Small foot movement on the landing. 9.850
McCusker UB: Gorgeous first handstand, Maloney and Pak both very floaty. Van Leeuwen into another perfect handstand. Small step on the dismount but great routine. 9.750 feels low?
Quinn VT: Y-1.5, looked like some knee form in the air and she had to take a hop forward. 9.825
Schoenherr UB: Blind change to Jaeger, her usual perfection. Bail handstand also perfect. Double front half out, stuck! I think there was one questionable handstand in the routine but other than that I couldn’t see any deductions. 9.825
Doggette VT: Y-1.5, almost stuck but she took a step back at the last second. Looked clean in the air. It’s great to see her vaulting again! 9.875
Thomas UB: Maloney to Pak followed by. aperfect handstand. Van Leeuwen great, then she almost goes over on a handstand but somehow saves it. Lots of distance on the DLO, stuck. 9.750
Graber VT: Y-1.5 with a large step forward. The arena isn’t showing replays of Bama’s vaults and it’s on the other side of the arena for me so it’s hard to see the form in the air. 9.825
Wong UB: Maloney to Pak, some leg separation on the latter. Van Leeuwen followed by the same handstand issue Trinity had, also saved. Beautiful DLO with a step on the landing. 9.750
AFTER TWO: Alabama 98.475, Florida 98.325
Scoring felt a bit tighter in that rotation, and I think it’s probably surprising to many fans that Alabama is leading at the halfway point but a sub-49 bars rotation will do that. However, with beam and floor coming up, I suspect this lead won’t last unless Florida has some major mistakes.
Rotation 3: Florida BB, Alabama FX
Skaggs BB: Wolf turn slightly off balance. Perfect split positions on her leaps! BHS LOSO very steady. Front aerial with maybe the slightest lean but covered up well. Side aerial to back full, stuck. This should be a huge score. 9.875, I’m not sure how they got anything less than 9.900.
Olsen FX: Piked full-in to open! Well-controlled on the landing so probably a good decision to sub that in for the double double. Maybe slightly short on some of the splits in her jumps? Hard to tell from my angle. Front tuck through to double tuck to finish. Solid routine to start. 9.725
Blakely BB: Front aerial to BHS, no issues. Maybe some slight feet issues on her second jump. Side somi is good. Side aerial to back full, stuck. Another good routine. 9.925
Mitchell FX: Double pike to open. Switch split to wolf full. Front tuck through to double back. Solid tumbling, she seems really happy with it! 9.825
Lazzari BB: BHS LOSO LOSO, misses her foot and falls. Switch split to split jump, good split positions and no hesitation. Side aerial to back full, stuck. The Gators are really dialed into these beam landings today. It’s a shame about the fall because it was a great routine otherwise! 9.150
Waligora FX: L-turn is nice to start, holds her leg up at the end. Front double twist is her first pass, I couldn’t see the landing due to Bama gymnasts on the sidelines but it looked well-controlled. Back 1.5 to front layout (?) to finish. 9.800
Baumann BB: BHS LOSO, solid. Switch split to split jump is nice. Large wobble after her side aerial, then another big break after her switch half. Round off 1.5 twist dismount, looked stuck to me. Not the routine she wanted after Lazzari’s fall, I’m sure. 9.625
Hudson FX: Front double twist to open, super clean. Switch half to wolf full (?) is nice. Back 2.5 looks clean in the air and a well-controlled lunge on the landing. Double back is a little overrotated with a large lunge out of it. She has a bright future! 9.850
Wong BB: Switch leap to split jump, solid. BHS LOSO clean and confident. Front aerial and side aerial are also nice, followed by a side somi with maybe a slight balance check. Her double twist dismount is very clean and stuck. 9.900
Blanco FX: High, clean double pike to open. Switch ring doesn’t have the back leg high enough but this is NCAA so that probably doesn’t matter. Double tuck middle pass looks like a breeze for her. Front full to front layout to finish, great routine. 9.900
Clapper BB: BHS LOSO LOSO, maybe the slightest of balance checks at the end but she covered it well if so. Big break after her switch leap and she has to restart her leap series. Side aerial to back full with a small step back on the salute. 9.775
Graber FX: Full-twisting double tuck to open with a large step back and some small front leg movement. Front tuck through to double pike, solid. She looks thrilled. 9.925
AFTER THREE: Alabama 147.775, Florida 147.425
Yes, Florida isn’t quite as solid as we’re used to seeing, but full credit to Alabama for the huge improvement shown so far compared to last week’s performance. Now we move to Alabama on beam and Florida on floor; can Alabama hold onto the lead on the most perilous event?
Rotation 4: Alabama BB, Florida FX
Burgess BB: One-handed BHS to LOSO, maybe a slight balance check. Cat leap to switch straddle 1/4. Switch leap to beat jump. Side aerial to back full, stuck. Some minor form issues here and there but overall a solid routine. 9.775
Skaggs FX: Double wolf turn to open, followed by a Rudi to stag jump. Beautiful leaps! Back 1.5 to front layout, really clean. This should be another big score for her and should lock up her AA title. 9.900
Doggette BB: BHS LOSO with a fairly large balance check. Beat jump to switch half. Roundoff 1.5 twist with a step forward on the landing. Not her best routine but still solid. 9.750
Blakely FX: Huge double arabian, steps forward out of bounds. Nice leap series! Double tuck is solid. Back 1.5 to front layout to finish. That out of bounds might come back to haunt the Gators, but otherwise it was a really great routine. 9.725
Olsen BB: Switch leap to split half with the slightest of checks. BHS LOSO with a significant lean. Front aerial with a slight knee bend. Double twist dismount, stuck. 9.800
Baumann FX: Back 1.5 to front full, lunges forward and to the side a little awkwardly. Split full to split jump (?), front leg maybe a little low. Bounces forwarded out of the double pike but manages not to put her hand down. This just doesn’t seem to be Florida’s meet… 9.750
Hudson BB: Front aerial to BHS LOSO, some leg form issues in the acro elements. Switch split to beat jump. Side aerial looked a little awkward from my angle but I’m not sure why. Roundoff 1.5 to finish with a small foot movement on the landing. 9.875
Wong FX: Her triple twist is what dreams are made of, though it looked like she took a small hop in place rather than lunging out of it. Beautiful leaps. Back layout half to front layout (?), it looked like she jumped a little awkwardly to the side out of it. Double pike to finish is beautiful and well-controlled. The arena is roaring for this freshman, and with good reason. 9.925
Waligora BB: BHS LOSO with a large balance break, followed by a much stronger side aerial. Split jump to tuck full, I don’t think she actually got it all the way around. Roundoff 1.5 with a tiny hop forward. 9.700
Reed FX: Huge double layout, perfect landing. She is clearly a crowd favorite here, with good reason. Front layout to Rudi, solid. Switch half to wolf full, no obvious issues. Double pike, another great landing. This was the best floor routine of the night in my book! Judges agree, it’s another perfect 10! She’s crying and blowing kisses to the crowd. If you’re not crying too you have no heart, I don’t make the rules.
Blanco BB: Front aerial, solid. Score just came in for Reed so now she’s competing against the crowd noise. BHS LOSO LOSO, perfect. Beautiful scale as always. Maybe the slightest of wobbles between her leaps but she kept the rhythm going. Double twist dismount, stuck. Excellent routine! 9.950
Thomas FX: Another perfect DLO to open; crowd roars. Front full to front layout to split jump, solid. Double pike to finish. Crowd is clearly expecting another 10 here. And they get it! Another 10! And by my quick math that should mean UF comes from behind to win the meet!
Final: Florida 197.000, Alabama 196.925
Whew, what a meet! That was a great one for the first ever regular season meet to appear on ABC. Alabama will be disappointed that they didn’t come away with the win after having a 0.350 lead going into the final rotation, but they also improved on their first week’s score by over a point which is hugely encouraging going forward. And Florida showed so much heart in reaching 197 despite a bunch of uncharacteristic errors.
AA Winner: Skaggs (UF) 39.525
VT Winner: Thomas (UF) 10.000
UB Winner: Blanco (UA), Doggette (UA) 9.925
BB Winner: Blanco (UA) 9.950
FX Winner: Reed (UF), Thomas (UF) 10.000
Live Blog by Jenna King
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