Trinity Thomas ties NCAA perfect 10 record, Florida places second at gymnastics championships

By Staff
April 15, 2023
Trinity Thomas ties NCAA perfect 10 record, Florida places second at gymnastics championships

Image Credit: UAA

Despite posting the highest score in program history at an NCAA championship on Saturday, No. 2 Florida Gators gymnastics fell just short of claiming its first national title since 2015. Florida ultimately finished 0.150 behind No. 1 Oklahoma at the 2023 NCAA Gymnastics Championships as the Sooners (198.3875) captured their second straight title and sixth in their last nine tries and the Gators finished as runners-up for the second consecutive season.

Florida’s 198.2375 was a not only the program’s best score at the competition but the fifth-highest in event history dating back to 1982. UF achieved the mark with program event records in balance beam (49.5250), vault (49.5750) and uneven parallel bars (49.7125), the latter two being rotations in which star Trinity Thomas competed.

Thomas, who suffered a lower leg injury in regional action that forced her out of competition, achieved personal glory Saturday by tying the all-time NCAA record with the 28th perfect 10.0 score of her career. Thomas posted a 10.0 on vault to tie the mark and clinch her fifth Gym Slam (perfect scores in all four events in a single season).

“I was not focused on that at all. I was just focused on being out here one last time with my team,” Thomas said after the meet. “They mean the world to me, and we left it all out here on the floor, and I could not be more proud of us.”

Unable to finish regional competition after injuring herself on floor exercise, Thomas was listed as day-to-day to compete in the championships. Ultimately, the greatest all-around performer in program history was cleared to only compete in two of four events: vault and bars. She first gutted out a stellar performance at the semifinals on Thursday before concluding her career Saturday in classic form at the championships.

Once landing on her perfect vault, Thomas smiled and welled up as her teammates audibly chanted “goat,” referring to her as the greatest of all-time. There’s hardly any argument to that end as Thomas ends her career as one of the greatest and most successful performers in the history of Gators athletics.

“Super special,” she said of hearing their cheers. “I owe it all to them. I couldn’t do it by myself. I can’t do anything by myself. … [My gymnastics career has] just been the best time of my life, honestly. This year has been a blessing, and I’m going to miss gymnastics so much. I just couldn’t be more thankful.”

Florida sat 0.038 behind Oklahoma after starting on beam where all five counted scores were 9.8750 or higher. However, Leanne Wong jumping out of bounds on her floor routine was part of a disappointing showing at the event as the Gators suddenly fell behind 0.250 midway through the meet.

Thomas’ 10.0 on vault gave Florida life, and the Gators pulled off an incredible showing on bars, nearly completing a comeback. Wong rebounded with a 9.9750, which Kayla DiCello matched, and no one scored lower than 9.9000 on bars, a score that was ultimately dropped.

Thomas had an outside chance at a second straight perfect score and the outright NCAA record, but she flailed her arms to keep balance on the landing and scored 9.9125 in the final event of her career.

One can only wonder how Florida would have finished if Thomas was healthy enough to compete in all four events, particularly floor where the Gators only had two 9.9000s out of five counted scores.

Florida competed in the Four on the Floor / Super Six for the third straight year, 10th time in 11 seasons and 15th time in 17 seasons. The Gators now have consecutive runner-up finishes to the Sooners and four second-place honors in program history.

Though Florida has not claimed a national title under head coach Jenny Rowland, who completed her seventh season with the program, the Gators continue to come excruciatingly close. There’s no doubt this year’s team was capable of winning the championship ranked among the top two in the nation all season. Thomas’ untimely injury will leave fans wondering what could have been.

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