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Record-setting Gators win SEC title led by all-around champ Trinity Thomas

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 3/19/2023 Edgar Thompson, Orlando Sentinel

Florida gymnast Trinity Thomas continues to elevate herself and the Gators as she winds down her decorated career.

Thomas defended her all-around title highlighted by scores of 10 on the high bar and floor exercise to spearhead UF’s record-setting SEC championship performance.

“I go out there and do my best, I can’t control the scores,” Thomas said. “I’m super thankful, super blessed.”

The Gators totaled 198.425 to win their 12th SEC meet title and top the previous event record of 198.375 set by Georgia’s 1997 team.

UF dominated a meet featuring four top-10 teams and eight in the top 20.

“The team’s going to take away a lot of memories from tonight,” coach Jenny Rowland said.

No. 8 Alabama (197.925) finished runner-up well behind the Gators, who won at least a share of each of four individual event titles. No. 6 LSU (197.80) and No. 9 Kentucky (197.675) followed the Crimson Tide.

Florida’s winning margin of 0.500 is the highest since Georgia’s 0.700 win in 1999.

“The level of competition tonight was insane,” Rowland said. “All day from top to bottom on all four events. Really, the SEC just continues to prove what a strong force we are.”

Thomas led the way with an all-around score of 39.80 and the sole 10s by any competitors. The fifth-year senior’s floor routine, her specialty, clinched the Gators’ SEC title and spurred an rousing ovation from the reported crowd of 9,544 at Gas South Arena in Duluth, Ga.

Thomas said she became sick earlier on the week and needed antibiotics.

“Was just taking it easy a little bit and was hoping I’d be good,” she said. “Luckily, the Lord came through.”

Thomas returned for another season to reclaim her COVID year to try to win a national championship after the Gators lost to Oklahoma by .125 in 2022.

UF will compete in regionals March 29-April 2. The NCAA championship is slated for April 13-15 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rowland has tinkered with her lineup and aimed to keep her gymnasts rested and ready for a postseason push.

“The team seems to be hitting each individual’s stride,” she said last week. “We’ve been as strategic as possible when we need to rest players and when we play them.”

The strategy paid off Saturday night.

Leanne Wong equaled her near-perfect winning mark (9.975) from the 2022 SECs to defend her balance beam title. Fellow sophomore Sloane Blakely shared the vault title with a score of 9.95.

The Gators trailed Kentucky by 0.025 after the opening rotation on the vault but scored the highest team total during the next three events to take command.

Wong shared fourth in the all-around (39.625) while Kayla DiCello was the top freshman all-around, taking sixth overall at 39.60.

Thomas became just the second gymnast to record two 10s in the SEC championships, joining Kentucky’s Jenny Hansen, who did it in 1994. Thomas is one perfect score behind the NCAA record 28 set by Hansen and UCLA’s Jamie Dantzscher.

This article first appeared on Email Edgar Thompson at or follow him on Twitter at @osgators.

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