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No. 2 Florida Gymnastics Nipped at No. 8 LSU

No. 2 Florida Gymnastics Nipped at No. 8 LSU
No. 2 Florida Gymnastics Nipped at No. 8 LSU (USA Today Sports Images)

BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 2 Florida gymnastics dropped its first meet of the season Friday in front of 11,887 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

No. 8 Louisiana State used its season-best of 198.10 to edge the Gators. Florida’s 197.975 is the team’s high road score of the season.

The 0.125 margin of victory was typical of recent UF-LSU meetings. It marked Florida’s third straight trip to Maravich Assembly Center that 0.125 or less decided the competition.

The Tigers end Florida’s Southeastern Conference unbeaten streak, which stood at a league record 26-0-1 heading into Friday’s meet. It was Florida’s first league loss since Feb. 22, 2019 versus Georgia.

TONIGHT’S MEET Four consecutive stuck landings closed Florida’s uneven bars lineup to open Friday’s meet. Trinity Thomas posted her fourth near-perfect 9.975 on the event to take the win. Sophomore Leanne Wong also posted a 9.95 to share second with LSU’s Haleigh Bryant. Florida’s Kayla DiCello also turned in a 9.90 and Payton Richards anchored the lineup with her second-consecutive season-high 9.85.

Florida used marks of 9.85 or better toward its vault total of 49.35. Thomas’ 9.925 led the Gators to take third overall. LSU went one-two on vault. Bryant took the win with a near-perfect 9.975 and Aleah Finnegan was runner-up at 9.95.

At the midway point of the meet, Florida trailed LSU by two-tenths.

Thomas and DiCello shared the floor exercise win with LSU’s KJ Johnson at 9.95. Florida opened the floor set with a pair of 9.925s from Victoria Nguyen and Rachel Baumann. The mark equals Nguyen collegiate high and Baumann’s season high.

Florida finished the meet with its season-best balance beam set of 49.625. For the second consecutive week, Thomas posted a 10.0 on the event. She shared the beam win with LSU’s Aleah Finnegan who posted her first collegiate beam 10.0 Friday. DiCello equaled her near-perfect beam best of 9.975 for the second straight meet to place third.

Thomas’ 39.85 all-around set the nation’s high for 2023. LSU’s Haleigh Bryant was second at 39.775 while DiCello shared third with Finnegan at 39.70.

GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:

* Florida’s 197.975 ties for the nation’s No. 11 high total of 2023.

* Trinity Thomas’ 39.85 leads the nation’s all-arounders in 2023. She has performed well in Maravich Assembly Center, as she set UF’s all-around record of 39.90 on her last visit in 2021.

* Her balance beam mark is the 25th 10.0 of her career and her sixth on the event. Her five 10.0s leads all in 2023 (3 beam, 1 vault, 1 floor)

* Junior Chloi Clark equaled her collegiate best of 9.85 for the second consecutive meet to lead off Florida’s vault lineup

* Thomas won her 28th uneven bars with a oh-so-close-to-perfect 9.975. It was her 14th 9.975 on uneven bars of her career and the fourth of 2023.

* DiCello’s 39.70 all-around was just off her collegiate high of 39.75 set last week. * Collegiate bests equaled or set tonight:

* Chloi Clark – 9.85 (vault)

* Kayla DiCello – 9.95 (floor), 9.975 (beam)

* Victoria Nguyen – 9.925 (floor)

* Trinity Thomas – 10.0 (beam)

RECORDS: Florida (8-1, 5-1 SEC), LSU (3-5, 3-3 SEC)

THE SERIES: Florida leads 75-43.

National Rank: Florida – Florida is No. 2 in the Feb. 13 Road to Nationals rankings LSU – The Tigers are No. 8

UP NEXT: Florida’s Senior Night combines with a SEC title deciding meet next Friday in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

The Gators’ home schedule closes with No. 11 Kentucky. Both teams enter Friday’s meet with an opportunity to claim the 2023 SEC regular-season title. Both teams have a single league loss, with Friday’s meet closing UF’s SEC slate while UK has two SEC meets remaining..

* A win Friday would give Florida sole possession of its fifth consecutive SEC regular-season championship.

* A Wildcat win would put the Wildcats at the top of the league standings with one meet remaining (versus Auburn). UK claimed a 197.875 – 195.40 home win Friday over Arkansas to up its 2023 SEC record to 4-1.

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