2021 – 4th
2020 – 2nd
2019 – 10th
2018 – 3rd
2017 – 3rd
2016 – 4th
2015 – 1st
2014 – 1st
2013 – 1st
2012 – 2nd
2021 IN REVIEW
Well, the regular season went great. Florida started out as preseason #1 and maintained that ranking through every week of the season, going undefeated right up until the SEC Championship. It was at that point that the wheels feel off. At least 2 of the wheels. Maybe 2.5. At SECs, Florida counted a fall on bars to go sub-197 for the first time all year and place 3rd, which ultimately foreshadowed a nationals performance where Florida was nearly upset by Cal in the semifinals, then went on to finish a distant 4th in the championship after a beam disaster.
It’s still 4th place, but in a season where Florida was #1 all year long and at minimum co-favorites to win the championship, if not outright favorites, that’s not an acceptable or satisfying result and reflects a Florida team that has simply not brought its best gymnastics to the postseason, year after year. It’s telling that Florida’s best result of the entire Rowland Era came in the season which was halted before the elimination meets.
Jazmyn Foberg – VT
THE NEW ONES
Florida has gone for an all-leads, no-cameos first year class for the 2022 season, where the only tentativeness in prognostication comes because there flat-out isn’t room for all of them to compete all the events they should be doing in college.
Fortunately, Morgan Hurd is now officially on campus at Florida so we no longer have to pretend we aren’t sure what she’s up to. Because Hurd just arrived, unlike the other first years who have been training with the team for a while, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Florida takes it slowly with her. Late December/January arrivals often don’t burst into the AA in that very first meet.
That Hurd has four-event, college-star ability is a given, and Florida’s strongest possible beam and floor lineups will have Hurd hanging out toward the end of them, if not wearing a tiara of made out of the teeth of her conquests in the anchor position. The same is very much true of bars, where Florida is most in need of new options, though Hurd’s recent and less-recent history with Poison Elbow—a clear and heinous act of QAnon sabotage—may mean that expectations are slightly more reserved there. We’ll have to see about vault, which was never exactly Hurd’s bestie and may not end up being her most urgent routine on this squad.
As for Leanne Wong, coming right off her 2-medal performance at worlds, she has been looking ready to kidnap all of college gymnastics and get away with it in training videos thus far. Her 10.0-start round-off 1/2 on pike 1/2 (Podkopayeva) vault is looking sublime, and at this point it would be a surprise not to see her competing the all-around for this team, getting 9.9s anywhere and everywhere. Her gymnastics will translate particularly well to college composition. There’s just so little to be annoyed by.
Oh it’s just Riley McCusker, joining Hurd and Wong in Florida’s first-year class. The People’s Olympic +1 will be at her most essential on bars, where she should provide a starring routine that’s at minimum top-3 in the lineup, if not top-1. Ideally, Florida will also get a top-quality beam out of McCusker (though there are about 50 top-quality beams on this team), and a competitive floor would be a great bonus. In terms of floor for most of these first years, we’ll have to see how things shake out as far as the needs of the team, injuries, resting, and whatnot. They all would be great on floor, but do you need to push that for 12 weeks, and can you?
In that regard, Sloane Blakely, who took the elite-to-L10-champion path will be essential because it’s probably unrealistic to expect to get ALL THE ROUTINES from Hurd, Wong, and McCusker all the time. In most years and on most teams, Blakely would be a lock for the all-around, and even on this team, this year, she seems realistic for any event. The most likely and most important event for Blakely will be vault, where her Y1.5 will surely get into the six, but don’t be surprised to see her pop up anywhere as needed for 9.850+.
Walk-on Bri Edwards placed 8th AA at L10 Regionals this year, so she isn’t just some local. Her viable Yfull would make a lot of vault lineups, but we probably won’t see her on this team.
For most of last season, Florida was already the best team in the country, and now this 2022 Florida team has retained its entire postseason lineup from 2021 while adding a veritable bushel of some of the top gymnasts ever to do college gymnastics. This roster boasts 9 world/Olympic medals, which is second all-time behind only the UCLA teams with Kocian and Ross. Florida shouldn’t just get better this year; Florida should get a lot better, and that’s in comparison to a team that already had a near-198 NQS last year. Real talk: Florida has no business not winning the championship in 2022.
That’s why no team faces as much pressure this year as Florida does. Another season where Florida is great, then great, then great, then great, then…3rd or 4th place just isn’t going to cut it. If you can’t win with this squad…? But the comparison to those UCLA teams with Kocian/Ross is a good one because while UCLA won the championship in 2018, that roster didn’t win every year. It takes more than just having the most talented team.
2021 Event Ranking: 4
|Lineup locks: Trinity Thomas, Nya Reed, Leanne Wong, Savannah Schoenherr, Sloane Blakely|
|Lineup options: Payton Richards, Ellie Lazzari, Megan Skaggs, Morgan Hurd, Alyssa Baumann, Riley McCusker|
Florida will expect to put up a complete lineup of 10.0 starts (complete with a reinforcement option or two) in 2022, allowing several of the Yfulls or questionable 1.5s that had to compete last year to move to backup status. That should help avert some of those lower vault scores that hurt the Gators toward the end of 2021, when the team went sub-49.4 in each of the last five meets.
The Y1.5s from Trinity Thomas, Nya Reed, and Savannah Schoenherr were best on the team last year and will be expected to return to the lineup in 2022, with their most likely partners in crime being the Podkopayeva from Leanne Wong and the Y1.5 from Sloane Blakely, both of which should be considered locks at this point given what we’ve seen from training. Payton Richards struggled to get her Y1.5 back last year, but that has previously been a good option for Florida and could return as a sixth vault, though Ellie Lazzari is also working an upgraded Y1.5, which should fight it out with Richards for a spot in Florida’s ideal vaulting lineup.
As far as others go, you wouldn’t at all mind putting the Yfull from Megan Skaggs in there because it tends to score so well, but it is just a Yfull so it may not be part of the theoretical best lineup even though it’s a possible 9.900. That scenario, with more 9.9s than necessary, allows Florida to be pretty much as conservative as it wants with possible vaults from Hurd and McCusker and probably doesn’t need to try to force the Baumann 1.5 anymore.
2021 Event Ranking: 5
|Lineup locks: Trinity Thomas, Riley McCusker, Leanne Wong, Morgan Hurd, Megan Skaggs, Savannah Schoenherr|
|Lineup options: Sloane Blakely, Ellie Lazzari, Gabrielle Gallentine, Alyssa Baumann, Payton Richards, Leah Clapper|
Florida should receive its biggest individual event boost on bars in 2022. The team had heaps of trouble filling out the final spot or three last season, whether it was the attempt to get Alyssa Baumann in there, or Payton Richards being hit and miss, or Leah Clapper early in the season, or Ellie Lazzari at the end of the season, or Gabby Gallentine being sometimes great occasionally sometimes. Beyond the sure three of Trinity Thomas, Megan Skaggs, and Savannah Schoenherr, it was never clear who was going to be in the lineup and whether that was the right choice or a disaster.
This year, most of those athletes who were in and out of the lineup in 2021 will probably be relegated to backup positions. If you’re not absolutely necessary, you’ll find yourself without a spot in the lineup because there’s just too much necessary at hand.
Health permitting, Riley McCusker, Leanne Wong, and Morgan Hurd will join Trinity Thomas as the most talented bars workers on the team, a key phalanx of four routines with unimpeachable form if Florida can actually pull it off. Of the remaining returners, Skaggs and Schoenherr are the strongest and most reliable bars workers with the best case to come back and fill out a high-class six, but expect to see appearances from several of the others. Gallantine and Lazzari both have the talent to be countable scores here—and the capability of becoming more reliable in their second years—and this is one of the many events where Blakely should make a case.
2021 Event Ranking: 1
|Lineup locks: Trinity Thomas, Leanne Wong, Morgan Hurd, Alyssa Baumann, Riley McCusker, Ellie Lazzari|
|Lineup options: Leah Clapper, Megan Skaggs, Sloane Blakely, Payton Richards, Savannah Schoenherr, Sydney Johnson-Scharf|
Florida’s beam will be perhaps the hardest lineup to make in all of college gymnastics. Case in point, an athlete who got an actual 10.000 last season in Leah Clapper doesn’t even seem like a lock to make the lineup this year given all of the absolutely necessary routines coming from both returning athletes and new athletes. In terms of pure scoring potential (ignoring lineup position and all that), the top three returning beam routines for Florida would probably be Trinity Thomas, Alyssa Baumann, and Ellie Lazzari, so if you add Leanne Wong, Morgan Hurd, and Riley McCusker to that…it’s, um, uh, already six.
Of course, Leah Clapper can go with the #2 returning beam score, and Megan Skaggs got 9.9s all over the place last season, so I would anticipate seeing plenty of them in 2022, and quite possibly in the final lineup since Florida projects to have at least eight 9.9+ers here. If a routine like Hurd or McCusker doesn’t end up panning out, Florida has the athletes to throw in there without losing much, if anything, in projected scores.
This year’s depth may mean there’s no spot for Payton Richards, who struggled with her consistency at the end of last season, but she’ll be around as a choice with the likes of Sloane Blakely. Basically, there should be enough beamers for Florida this season that they don’t have to throw someone like Schoenherr in there at the last second, though she did get 9.8s when asked last year.
2021 Event Ranking: 1
|Lineup locks: Trinity Thomas, Nya Reed, Alyssa Baumann, Leanne Wong, Sloane Blakely, Morgan Hurd|
|Lineup options: Megan Skaggs, Ellie Lazzari, Payton Richards, Riley McCusker, Leah Clapper, Sydney Johnson-Scharf, Halley Taylor|
Florida managed the #1 ranking on floor last season, though that won’t necessarily translate into an intact lineup in 2022 because there were times when the floor six seemed nearly as unsettled as bars. Certainly, the routines from Trinity Thomas, Trinity Thomas, and Trinity Thomas will be critical (you may replace those second two Trinity Thomases with Nya Reed and Alyssa Baumann if you must), but I wouldn’t feel certain about anyone else beyond that trio returning to the lineup.
On floor, it’s worth being more reticent about expectations for the 2021 elites, so this is an area where Sloane Blakely and her double Arabian will be a must, and Megan Skaggs and Ellie Lazzari should also return to see plenty of time. They were under-the-radar 9.9s last season with Lazzari reaching that mark five times and Skaggs doing so in each of the final four meets. Though if everything goes perfectly, Skaggs and Lazzari may not have places in the final floor lineup because Florida’s ideal six would surely feature Morgan Hurd and Leanne Wong in important positions. A theoretical lineup with Thomas, Hurd, Wong, Reed, Blakely, Baumann would warrant a #1 national ranking on floor once again.