Brady-Manning, Magic-Jordan, Ali-Frazier, Yankees-Red Sox, 1 vs. 2. And for the last five seasons in NCAA Gymnastics, Oklahoma vs. Florida. Inside a packed Lloyd Noble Center in Norman Friday night, it was the top two teams in the land going head-to-head for supremacy in the sport and bragging rights heading into the postseason.
With an electric Sooner crowd on hand for the highly-anticipated one vs two duel, it was the nation’s top team that got the better of Florida this time, avenging their thrilling last-routine loss in another exciting final rotation to win edge out the Gators 198.325-198.025.
In an incredibly high-quality start to the meet, the first rotation did not disappoint as both teams proved their top rankings with excellent vault and bars rotations. Oklahoma began on the vault with their superb lineup of six 10.0 start value vaults, helping the Sooners to a huge 49.575 courtesy of Anastasia Webb‘s 9.925 and freshman phenom Olivia Trautman‘s 9.950 in the anchor role. Florida got things going the bars, actually leading the Sooners by a tenth after the first rotation thanks to an incredible set of routines to count no score lower than 9.900, including near-perfection- a theme of the night- from freshman Trinity Thomas with a 9.975 and anchor Megan Skaggs‘ 9.950.
Rotation two saw Oklahoma really begin to set themselves apart, taking advantage of some high scoring on the bars and weaker vaulting from Florida to go out in front at the halfway point. The Sooners saw incredibly clean, difficult routines from three standouts, with Webb going 9.900, Maggie Nichols– limited only to bars and beam again- nearing perfection for a 9.975, and senior Nicole Lehrman hitting the perfect mark to score her first-career Perfect 10.0 to light up the Norman crowd. Meanwhile, vault was a bit of a struggle for Florida, counting some lower scores due to poor landings, however powerful sets from Savannah Schoenherr and Nya Reed for 9.900 and 9.875, respectively helped keep the Gators afloat.
The meet really began to heat up in the third rotation, when the Sooners began to face adversity and Florida really began their comeback. On the usually rock-solid balance beam, Oklahoma stumbled not just once, but twice, as falls from Lehrman and Bre Showers opened the door for Florida and left the Sooners with work to do- which Trautman and Nichols did performing clutch routines for scores of 9.925 and 9.975, respectively. Florida electrified the away crowd on floor, with Reed scoring a 9.925 on her dynamic routine before the final two performers, Alyssa Baumann and Thomas, again neared perfection, each scoring 9.950s to close the third rotation.
All the pressure was on in the fourth and final rotation, with both teams locked neck-and-neck, and Florida having to end on the dreaded balance beam. After another fall from Showers on floor, the Sooners went into absolute lockdown mode on the final event, each athlete performing to their absolute best in front of an electric crowd, continually upping the bar for a program-record floor score of 49.825, including a staggering three 9.975s to close the rotation and seal the meet from Jade Degouveia, Brenna Dowell, and Trautman. The Gators refused to go down without a fight, also impressing on the beam with their own clutch performances following a fall to set up Amelia Hundley and Thomas for 9.925s and Baumann in the anchor spot for a massive 9.975 to close an incredibly strong performance for Florida.Tags: Alyssa Baumann, Amelia Hundley, Anastasia Webb, Big 12, Bre Showers, Brenna Dowell, Florida, Florida Gators, Jade DeGouveia, Maggie Nichols, Megan Skaggs, NCAA Gymnastics, Nicole Lehrman, Nya Reed, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Sooners, Olivia Trautman, Savannah Schoenherr, SEC, Trinity Thomas