LIVE BLOG: No. 2 Florida at No. 11 Alabama 

Florida has been nothing short of excellent in its first two outings, though it’s had the undeniable benefit of competing at home. The Gators have depth and difficulty to spare on bars, beam, and floor, but they’ll need to dial in the landings on vault if they hope to reach 198. Florida is clearly one of the top teams in the nation, but bringing in a convincing road win would help it distinguish itself from Oklahoma and Michigan. 

In Week 2, Alabama slipped out of the top 10 after a good-not-great home meet against Arkansas that suffered from uncharacteristic mistakes from several of the team’s top contributors. Though hardly a cause for concern this early in the season, it is worth noting that the Crimson Tide has yet to crack 197 in 2023. That said, this is an exceptionally talented squad that has the potential to give the Gators a run for their money with a start-to-finish hit meet.  

You can watch along at home on ESPNU with live scores available here

Rotation One: Alabama vault, Florida bars

Adams (Bama): Oh wow, Adams and Mitchell making their debuts tonight! HUGE Y full in the air, nice form, but really crunched the landing. Technically a stick, but her knees just about touched the mat. 9.675

Richards (UF): Camera came in mid-routine. Fairly loose trunk on the bail. Majorly straddled and flexed footed DLO with a small hop back. 9.725

Mitchell (Bama): Iffy block on her Y half and has to take a very large bound forward. Still, glad to see her back in the lineup after her injury at SECs! 9.700 is incredibly high give how out of control the landing was. 

Blakely (UF): Slight leg sep on both Maloney and Pak. Very crisp half pirouette on the low bar. Blind change to an extremely cowboyed front double full, but a definitive stick. 9.775

Little (Bama): Doesn’t get a ton of height off her block, but plenty of distance on her Y full. Bit of pike down and a small hop back. 9.775

Nguyen (UF): Leg sep on both Pak and Maloney. Lovely, floaty DLO, stuck. 9.900 is a little high

Hudson (Bama): Love her pre-vault prep dance. Gets tons of air on her Y 1.5. Good form in the air, but seemed to get stalled during the twist and underrotates a touch. Step off to the side. 9.875

DiCello (UF): Tons of height on her Ray, but elbows a little bent on the regrasp. No problems on her Pak or VL. Huge FTDT with the usual flared out legs at the end, and it’s more or less stuck. Very nice. 9.925 

Gladieux (Bama): GORGEOUS Y full in the air, great rise on the twist. Tons of distance and a small hop back. 9.850

Thomas (UF): Beautiful first handstand. Small leg sep on the Maloney, but none on the Pak. Great VL. Little arm bend on her giants, but a pristine DLO, stuck. 9.925

Paradise (Bama): High Y 1.5 with slightly soft knees and closed shoulders on the block. Not a ton of distance and a small hop forward. 9.900 is pretty high. 

Wong (UF): Slow, deliberate handstand. Maloney, Pak, fabulous. VL, no problems. Last handstand was just overarched, but the DLO was perfect and stuck. 9.900

AFTER ONE ROTATION: Florida 49.425, Alabama 49.100

Scores were generous but not outrageous on both events. That was a beautiful rotation for the Gators with Wong the standout for me despite that overcooked handstand; everything else–particularly those intentional, perfectly-controlled handstands–was excellent. Alabama has some work to do on vault, but I’m glad to see most of the errors were of the “going big or go home” variety. Sania Mitchell was an unexpected but very welcome addition to this lineup! No word on Blanco’s and Olsen’s absences. 

Rotation Two: Florida vault, Alabama bars

Clark (UF): Very solid Y full to lead off. Great body position, but held on a touch too long and and had a teeny hop forward. 9.775

Hudson (Bama): Immediately overarches a low bar handstand, but reels it back in. Minor leg sep on her Maloney and a little loose in the bail. Excellent blind change full to double tuck, stuck. Strong finish. 9.775

Edwards (UF): Massive block and gorgeous position in the air. Flared out towards the end and a large bounce back. 9.825

Little (Bama): Lovely first handstand. Really tight legs on her Maloney, but unfortunately slipped right off. Repeated it, no problems. Pak with a touch of ankle sep, probably not visible to the judges. Final handstand rivaling Wong’s precision. DLO with a little pike on the second salto and a hop. 9.200

Richards (UF): Really nice Y 1.5 in the air. Not entirely sure what happened on the landing. Shoulders flung back so she hopped back? 9.875 is high. 

Paradise (Bama): Good first handstand. Tight blind change to straddled Jaeger, great. Strong bail with a little twist in the trunk. Went really hard for the final handstand and comes off, too bad. DLO with significant leg sep on the second salto, but a solid stick. Love the fight to the end. 

DiCello (UF): Major distance on her Y 1.5, just slightly underrotated and has to take a tiny scoot back. 9.850 is about right. 9.850 

Waligora (Bama): Great handstand to blind change to straddled Jaeger, fantastic. Hangs up standing on the low bar post-sole circle. Slight pike in her FTDLO (but it’s a FTDLO) with a small hop. 9.825

Wong (UF): Podkopayeva looked pretty good in the air, but didn’t have quite enough height to fully open up and has to take a big bounce. 9.800

Machado (Bama0: Really pretty Maloney to Pak, really minor foot sickling. VL was a little funky and she had to readjust on the HB, but a flawless full pirouette to double tuck. 9.875

Thomas (Bama): Y 1.5. Twisted a bit onto the table, but a beauty in the air. Small hop forward. 9.900

Blanco (Bama): Lovely first handstand. Excellent Pak to handstand. Toe hand to VL, fantastic. High FTDT with pointed toes. Chest forward a bit on the landing, but feet don’t move. 9.900

AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: Florida 98.675, Alabama 97.775

Good enough vault rotation for the Gators. There’s work to do on the landings, but they’ve got the blocks and form to improve on those as the season progresses. 

Tough bars rotation for the Crimson Tide, but man! That’s going to be a killer rotation when everyone hits. Lots of aggressive mistakes, which is the second best option after “no mistakes.” Little was a highlight for me even with the fall. Just beautiful rhythm and execution. 

Rotation Three: Alabama beam, Florida floor

Burgess (Bama): Well-controlled full turn. One-armed bhs loso, so solid. Side aerial, barely there adjustment. Switch leap to beat , excellent. Cat leap to switch side, no problems. Lovely piked gainer off the end with a college salute that looked eerily like Shchennikova’s DLO. Excellent lead-off routine. 9.900 is accurate!

DiCello (UF): Front double full with a little form and finesse on the landing. Switch ring, great position; switch half was 180 but not quite horizontal. Wolf turn, nicely done. Back 1.5 to front full, again with some form but much more control on the landings. Well done. 9.800

Lewis (Bama): Slight wobble on her wolf turn. Split jump to double stag, nicely done. Bhs loso with a leg up check. Front aerial to Sissone, just gorgeous. Bhs to stuck side gainer full. 9.775

Nguyen (UF): Half turn in Arabesque is so pretty. Fhs to double twist to Sissone, so lovely. Switch ring to switch half to straight jump half. Falls out of her Y turn, but covers well. Back 1.5 to front lay with a minor stutter step. Beautiful routine. 9.850

Waligora (Bama): Good full turn. Bhs loso with soft knees, but steady. Side aerial with a teency hip bobble. Split jump to tucked full jump to beat, a hair shy on the split. RO back 1.5, not as much rise as I’d like to see, but stuck well. 9.800

Baumann (UF): Glad to see her back! Double wolf turn was slightly overrotated. RO back 1.5 to front full with a stumble right up to the line. Switch side to straddle, practically kicked herself in the ears it’s so oversplit (I mean that in the best possible way). Double pike was a bit underrotated and has to take a step forward. 9.825

Gladieux (Bama): Bhs to back pike, very cool and just a tiny adjustment. Front aerial to beat, no issues. Switch splite to straddle, very pretty. RO back double tuck STUCK. OK, freshman! 9.850

Wong (UF): Underrotated her piked double Arabian and lands deep, opts to leave out the stag jump. Leave it to Wong to make a pretty mistake! Lovely position on her Popa series. Whip half to front full, beautiful. Not a 10, but still impressive. 9.875

Hudson (Bama): Front aerial to bhs loso with a side-to-side hip adjustment (good cover). Switch leap, good position. Side aerial, another clever cover. RO back 1.5 didn’t get a ton of rise, and goes up on her toes to finesse the landing. 9.850 is a little high compared to the rest of the scores in the rotation.

Thomas (UF): Flawless DLO. Switch full to Popa series, much better control this week. Fhs to front full to front lay, stuck. I mean… What else can we say at this point? Oh my, “only” a 9.950. Controversy!

Blanco (Bama): Gorgeous straddle mount. Front aerial, textbook. Love her finger extension in her full turn. Bhs loso, solid as a rock and perfect execution. Scale, beautiful. Switch ring to beat, lovely position. RO back 1.5 with a small hop forward. Wonderful routine. Um… 9.850? Genuinely confused by that, particularly compared to the other 9.850s in this rotation.

Hurd (UF): Front lay to front full, not a ton of pop on the former. Switch ring and a balk on her switch ring half. Short on her double pike and has a big pop forward (doesn’t touch the floor though). Several obvious errors, but her performance quality is top notch. 9.675

AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: Florida 147.975, Alabama 147.025

Really strong beam rotation for the Crimson Tide! Ella Burgess continues to be an absolute rock star in that lead-off position. I’m going to have to rewatch Blanco’s routine, because that did not look like a 9.850 to me.

Some weird, unforced errors for the Gators on floor, but still an excellent rotation overall. I really love the variety of the performance styles tonight, not to mention the difficulty. I can’t lie, I’m a little bummed to see Thomas’s floor 10 streak broken (especially when it was an objectively better routine than last week’s).

Rotation Four: Florida beam, Alabama floor

Blakely (UF): Shoot through mount. Front aerial to bhs, nicely done. Switch split to switch half to beat; didn’t quite get the foot form on the switch half. Minor hitch in her full turn. Side gainer full with a slight pike and a big hop back. 9.800

Waligora (Bama): Shoulder shimmy, shoulder shimmy. Front lay to front double full with major stutter steps. Apologies, I sneezed during her leap series. Side aerial, good. A little forward on her L turn. Back 1.5 to front lay, falls out of it but stays in bounds. 9.750

Lazzari (UF): Bhs loso loso, so solid. Switch leap with a foot adjustment, split jump with a hip check. Front aerial, good. Pretty full turn. Bhs back 1.5, stuck. 9.850 is incredibly high (like, mathematically impossible), especially compared to the scores from last rotation.

Machado (Bama): Love the Y scale. Big double pike with a front foot slide back. Switch leap to switch half obscured by her teammates in the shot. Back 1.5 to front pike, was a little iffy on the landing. Triple wolf turn with a minor bobble at the end, but should count. Significantly underrotated double tuck, big lunge forward. 9.675

Nguyen (UF): Wonky legs on her her Onodi to bhs; very slow connection. Y turn to full turn end dedans, nicely done. Switch leap to split, good position. Bhs back 1.5 with soft knees and a forward hop. 9.825

Adams (Bama): Stunning double pike to open. Switch half to 1.5 tuck, really cool combination. Front leg a little low on the former though? Double wolf turn, good control. Back 1.5 to a flat front lay, but a well-controlled landing. Bama needed a hit and Adams delivered! 9.900 is high, but it makes up for some of these beam scores.

DiCello (UF): Good control on her candle mount. Double wolf turn, no problem. Switch leap to split jump, high amplitude. Floaty bhs loso with a hint of a hip check. Front aerial, no problem. Bhs side gainer full with soft knees and a minor foot adjustment. 9.925

Gladieux (Bama): MASSIVE half in half out, little bit of an adjustment on the landing. Switch full to Popa, good position on both. Drop down to a straddle is very cool. Apparently the team calls her “The Pogo stick. Front lay to Rudi with a split jump, travelled back a bit on the jump. Awesome routine. 9.900

Wong (UF): Straddle mount. Switch leap to split leap, perfect. Bhs loso, beautifully done. Full turn, great. Elegant front aerial to beat. RO back double full with some crossed legs and a miniscule scoot back. 9.875 is probably correct, but not comparatively.

Hudson (Bama): Front lay to front double full, great job. Switch half to wolf full, a little knee form on the split. Back 2.5 with a bit of a wild landing but stays in bounds. High double tuck and hops out of the landing. 9.925? Oh, I see…

Thomas (UF): Switch leap to split jump, pretty position. One-armed bhs loso with a tiny front foot adjustment. Front layout to two feet, much better than last week. Korbut, good. Side aerial to back 1.5 a little flat and takes a moderate jump to the side. 9.875

Blanco (Bama): Double wolf turn, no problem. HIGH double pike, controlled landing. Double tuck with a little front foot slide. Switch ring to Popa, fantastic position on both. Fhs front full to front lay, beautifully done. Great job. 9.950

FINAL: Florida 197.325, Alabama 196.450

Scoring on both events went a little off the rails in the back half of the rotation, which is a shame because it was reasonable(ish) for most of the meet. It’s OK, judges, I lose steam towards the end of the meet, too. I think the team scores for both are just about right, but they certainly took an indirect path to arrive there.

VT: Jordyn Paradise and Trinity Thomas, 9.900

UB: Kayla DiCello and Trinity Thomas, 9.925

BB: Kayla DiCello, 9.925

FX: Luisa Blanco and Trinity Thomas, 9.950

AA: Trinity Thomas, 39.650

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Live blog by Claire Billman 

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