2023 NCAA gymnastics championships — Recapping Florida, Oklahoma, Utah and LSU

FORT WORTH, Texas — Oklahoma’s sixth NCAA championship title since 2014 was rarely in doubt Saturday. The Sooners took control on vault during the first rotation and never relinquished the lead.

While Oklahoma walked away with the ultimate prize of the day, Florida’s Trinity Thomas made history of her own in the final meet of her storied career. Competing in just two events due to a leg injury, the fifth-year senior earned her 28th perfect 10 score — tying the NCAA record for the most ever — with a flawlessly executed Yurchenko 1½ on vault.

Missed any of the action from Saturday’s team final? We have you covered with the routines and moments you need to see.

Oklahoma takes another title

The Sooners lived up their No. 1 ranking Saturday, winning their second consecutive national title by .150. Audrey Davis started them off on floor with a 9.900 and it only went up from there, with Jordan Bowers earning the top score of 9.950 for her captivating routine and amazingly high double pike.

If possible, the crowd got even louder in the fourth rotation, with hit routines and near-perfect last rotations for all four teams. The Gators were lights-out on bars, with all scores above 9.900. Kayla DiCello and Leanne Wong each earned a 9.975, and Trinity Thomas a 9.912 for another incredible routine despite so little training time because of her injury.

Utah finished on beam, its best event, with another 10 from Maile O’Keefe and a 9.9625 from Abby Paulson. LSU finished fourth, but ended on a high note with an as-close-as-you-can-get-to-perfect score of 9.9875 for Haleigh Bryant on vault. — Amy Van Deusen

Final results:

  1. Oklahoma: 198.3875

  2. Florida: 198.2375

  3. Utah: 197.9375

  4. LSU: 197.5250

Rotation three: Trinity Thomas ties the perfect 10 record

While Oklahoma rolled through its beam routines in efficient fashion, Trinity Thomas stole the show in rotation three. Competing fifth, the crowd was on its feet before she even ran down the runway. When she stuck her Yurchenko 1½, the arena went bananas. Her perfect 10 — the only one so far of the competition — ties her with the NCAA record.

Florida amassed an impressive 49.575 total on the event, with big contributions from Leanne Wong’s lead-off 9.9125 and Kayla DiCello’s 9.900.

Utah also came roaring back, with a 49.5500 on bars, led by Sage Thompson and Grace McCallum’s 9.9375s. And LSU had a great rotation on floor, with a 9.9250 from Chase Brock and Aleah Finnegan, and a 9.9375 from Haleigh Bryant.

Back to Oklahoma, which deserves kudos for competing on beam during the wild crowd reactions — and still excelling. The squad was led by Audrey Davis’ 9.950 and Jordan Bowers’ 9.9125 for a 49.5125 total, and is still very much in the driver’s seat to win. But it was the most exciting rotation yet. — Amy Van Deusen

Results after rotation three:

  1. Oklahoma: 148.7125

  2. Florida: 148.5250

  3. Utah: 148.2000

  4. LSU: 148.0000

Thomas makes history

For the two weeks leading into the NCAA championships, it was unclear if Florida star and 2022 all-around champion Thomas would be able to participate due to her leg injury. But the fifth-year senior was determined to do whatever she could for her team and competed on bars and vault in Thursday’s semifinals to help lead the Gators to Saturday’s final.

And Saturday, Thomas further cemented her legendary status in the sport by scoring a 10.0 on vault — when her team needed her most — and tied the long-standing record for most perfect scores in NCAA history with 28 (!), matching UCLA’s Jamie Dantzscher and Kentucky’s Jenny Hansen. Needless to say, her teammates and the crowd showered her with love, and Thomas couldn’t hide her own emotions after the score was announced. — D’Arcy Maine

Rotation two: Is Oklahoma closing in on the title?

Oklahoma was on fire on bars, where Danielle Sievers started the squad off with a stuck dismount — and a stellar 9.925. Danae Fletcher emphasized her own stuck dismount for a 9.9125, and Olivia Trautman upped the ante with a 9.950. Jordan Bowers and Audrey Davis closed the rotation with matching 9.9250s for two gorgeous routines that received ovations from the Oklahoma fans.

Florida had a solid if not spectacular rotation on floor, with Rachel Baumann’s beautiful dance rewarded with a 9.900, and Kayla DiCello’s clean tumbling earning the same mark.

Utah didn’t have its best day on vault, either. It struggled to stick and totaled only a 49.150, led by Abby Brenner’s 9.900. They scored about .200 lower than Thursday, and now sit .550 out of first place.

LSU started off beam with a low score and bounced back in inspiring fashion, but stayed in the 9.800s save for Aleah Finnegan’s immaculate and original 9.925 routine in the anchor position.

It feels like Oklahoma is pulling away at the midway point, with beam and floor still to go for the Sooners. — Amy Van Deusen

Results after rotation two:

  1. Oklahoma: 99.2000

  2. Florida: 98.9500

  3. Utah: 98.6500

  4. LSU: 98.5500

Ending the rotation in style for OU

Another rotation, another dominant performance by the Sooners — and that couldn’t have been punctuated any better than by Audrey Davis’ high-flying bar routine (and joyful celebration) in the anchor spot. — D’Arcy Maine

Making it look easy

It had been a less-than-ideal start for LSU on bars when Haleigh Bryant anchored the rotation for the Tigers. No one had scored over a 9.875 and she knew she needed to have a big routine. And, WOW, did she deliver. Two days after earning third place in the individual all-around competition, Bryant showed, yet again, why she’s one of the best gymnasts in the country and scored a much-needed 9.95. — D’Arcy Maine

Rotation one: The building is rocking

The noise reached ear-splitting levels as the crowd reacted to a fast and furious first rotation. Oklahoma, starting on vault, led off with a 9.8625 after a near-stick from Danielle Sievers. Later in the lineup, Faith Torrez stuck her Yurchenko 1½ for a 9.925, and 2023 vault champion Olivia Trautman earned a 9.950, to give the Sooners the overall lead.

On beam, Florida got a huge lead-off routine from Sloane Blakely, who earned a 9.9. But then second up Ellie Lazzari had an uncharacteristic fall, which was met with a huge groan from the distraught Gator fans. She rebounded to stick her dismount, but the pressure was now on. Freshman Kayla DiCello delivered, with a 9.900 of her own, then Leanne Wong followed it up with a 9.9125. Riley McCusker jumped for joy after her own hit routine, which garnered a team-high 9.9375. With a 9.875, Victoria Nguyen anchored the Gators off beautifully, jumping into coach Jenny Rowland’s arms after, relief written all over her face. Out of the woods for now, the Gators now sit in second.

On floor, Utah’s Jaedyn Rucker had the crowd on its feet with her incredibly high tucked full-in and electrifying energy, earning a 9.900. All-around champ Maile O’Keefe went immediately after, with her own mesmerizing choreography and perfect form, to score another 9.900, while freshman Makenna Smith had the top score for the Utes at 9.925.

LSU was a little bit off on bars, but Haleigh Bryant’s immaculate routine earned a 9.95 to keep them in the hunt, just .250 out of first place. As expected, this is going to be a close competition, with the first three teams less than .100 apart. — Amy Van Deusen

Results after rotation one:

1. Oklahoma: 49.5625

2. Florida: 49.5250

3. Utah: 49.5000

4. LSU: 49.3125

Vault champion for a reason

Oklahoma’s Olivia Trautman reminded everyone who the current NCAA vault champion is, just two days after nabbing the title, with yet another nearly flawless performance and a team-leading 9.95 score. — D’Arcy Maine

Leo reveals

Sure, clothes don’t make the man and leotards don’t make the gymnast or whatever, but if you’re anything like us, you’re pretty excited to see exactly what each team will be wearing ahead of today’s competition. And thankfully we don’t even have to wait for the meet to start for those reveals. Florida, LSU and Oklahoma all gave sneak peaks of their looks on social media. (Utah did not but clearly the team wants to make a grand entrance and we kind of appreciate that too.)

The Gators had Leanne Wong hit the streets of Fort Worth to show off an all-white look, save for a rhinestone-encrusted blue crown on the sleeve. Some fans commented on a potential all-white leotard curse, so we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out.

The Tigers will be wearing a velvet and shimmery black-and-purple look that will surely make Kim Mulkey proud.

The Sooners are giving full glam with glitter, mesh and so many diamonds. You know, reigning national champion things. — D’Arcy Maine

Trinity watch and warmups report

Trinity Thomas, featuring a heavily wrapped right leg, took some warmup turns on beam, including two one-arm back handspring layout step-out series. She then appeared to receive some minor medical treatment during floor warmups, and did not go out on the floor. Later, she warmed up both vault and bars, though did not do a lot of skills on either. She is listed as competing on those two events on the preliminary rotation order, so that seems to be the probable outcome here: Bars and vault, as she did Thursday.

Also of note in warmups: Oklahoma was sticking bar landings like no one’s business — and cheering loudly with every stick. Dani Sievers, Danae Fletcher, Jordan Bowers and Ragan Smith all ended their warmups with a stick. Audrey Davis’ dismount looked a little off for much of warmups, but then she went up one last time and nailed it.

LSU’s KJ Johnson did not warm up on floor, though she is listed on the preliminary lineup for today. Johnson returned from injury Thursday, but limped off after completing her floor routine. — Amy Van Deusen

Who to watch: Well … everyone

Utah earned the highest score of semifinals, boosted by the return of Olympian Grace McCallum from injury and anchored by newly crowned all-around champion Maile O’Keefe, who earned one of only two 10s of the competition. The team has been very consistent in the postseason and is superb on beam especially, where titles are often won and lost.

Defending champion Oklahoma is considered the favorite, though the Sooners did place second to Utah on Thursday by the narrow margin of .063. This is only the second time any team has beaten them all season.

Led by Olivia Trautman, who won the vault title and was fourth on beam with scores of 9.95 on each, the Sooners will want to be a little bit better in order to win. This is especially true on bars, where they are ranked No. 1 and were nearly .200 behind Utah on Thursday.

Florida’s heart and soul is Trinity Thomas, who was able to do two events in the semifinals despite an injury to her leg that had forced her to withdraw from regionals two weeks ago. Not surprisingly, she contributed big on both. Will she compete again? All signs point to yes, and when combined with the huge scores of Kayla DiCello, Leanne Wong and the rest of the deep team, it’s still possible for the Gators to make a title run.

LSU has had the unluckiest of years, with injuries to so many on the team that coach Jay Clark has said he’s out of gymnasts to choose from when it comes to lineups. On Thursday, the Tigers rallied yet again to qualify into finals, and their Cinderella story could very well continue. Aleah Finnegan and Haleigh Bryant are two of the best all-arounders in the country, and the entire squad has proved it can step up when needed. — Amy Van Deusen

Championship history

Georgia has won the most national titles overall, with 10, and had a streak of five titles in a row from 2005 to 2009. But the Bulldogs haven’t won since 2009 and did not qualify to compete in Fort Worth this year.

Utah dominated the 1980s to the mid-1990s and has nine titles overall, with the most recent coming in 1995. Recently, Oklahoma has been the team to beat, with five national titles since the Sooners first won in 2014 (a tie for the title with Florida — the only tie in history).

All-time national title list

Georgia: 10 (1987, 1989, 1993, 1998-99, 2005-09)
Utah: 9 (1982-86, 1990, 1992, 1994-95)
UCLA: 7 (1997, 2000-01, 2003-2004, 2010, 2018)
Alabama: 6 (1988, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2011-12)
Oklahoma: 5 (2014 [tied], 2016-17, 2019, 2022)
Florida: 3 (2013, 2014 [tied], 2015)
Michigan: 1 (2021)

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