NCAA gymnastics Week 8: Florida upsets LSU, and OU sets another record



On Friday night, moments after Florida’s Payton Richards was carried off the floor after sustaining an injury on her opening tumbling pass, all eyes were on Leanne Wong as she prepared to close out the competition against LSU.

Needing a 9.825 to seal the victory, Wong did everything the Gators needed — and then some. The junior put together a flawless performance, complete with a sky-high double layout, intricate and graceful choreography and the signature “Gator chomp” at its conclusion. Wong’s walk-off heroics were rewarded with her first-ever 10.0 on floor, to not only give Florida the 198.150-197.950 win and its best team all-around score of the season, but to also complete the elusive “Gym Slam.”

Wong is now the 15th gymnast in NCAA history, and fourth at Florida, to have earned a perfect score on every event during her collegiate career. She later said she felt “very accomplished” after what she considered a productive day: She had recorded the best all-around score of the season (39.875) by any gymnast in the country, the bars title and a share of the titles on floor and beam, while also taking a midterm exam in American history, a quiz in a health class and completing three biology assignments.

But ultimately, she had just wanted to step up for her teammates when they needed her most.

“At that moment, I knew the team needed my score, so I just had to go out there and do my routine the way I had been practicing it,” Wong said during the postmeet news conference.

The Gators are now guaranteed at least a share of the SEC regular-season title for the sixth straight season and remain No. 5 in the rankings.

Oklahoma, which broke the record for highest team score in program history (198.675) during its win over West Virginia on Friday, continues its run at No. 1. LSU stays at No. 2 after moving up to the spot last week, and California and Utah remain at No. 3 and 4, respectively.

Here’s what else you may have missed from a memorable Week 8 of the 2024 NCAA gymnastics season:


The Perfect 10 Club

While Wong’s perfect score was easily the most dramatic, she wasn’t the only one to record a 10.0 — or even the only gymnast to earn the score and find her way into the history books. Five others earned the milestone score this weekend.

Ragan Smith, Oklahoma: A week after notching her first 10.0 of 2024, the Sooners senior further cemented her “Beam Queen” title with her seventh perfect score on the event. She is now tied with Maggie Nichols — who was in attendance for the win over West Virginia — for the most in school history on beam.

Aleah Finnegan, LSU: The Tigers junior had yet another astounding performance on floor, earning her second straight 10.0 and fourth on the event. While LSU lost Friday, the team still compiled its best-ever road floor score at 49.775, thanks in large part to Finnegan. To quote ESPN’s Sam Peszek during the broadcast after her opening tumbling pass, “She is such a performer. [She] really takes it to the next level with her leaps, her jumps … She is so fun to watch. This is an absolute treat.”

Grace McCallum, Utah: As an Olympic silver medalist, a two-time world champion and the 2023 NCAA bars runner-up, there isn’t much the Red Rocks’ junior hasn’t accomplished in gymnastics. McCallum had twice received a perfect score on bars, and had come so-very-close before on floor, but Friday during Utah’s 198.075-196.625 win over Stanford, she earned her first 10.0 on floor. She became the first Utah gymnast since MyKayla Skinner in 2019 to record the mark on the event, and the first since MaKenna Merrell-Giles in 2018 to do so at home.

eMjae Frazier, California: Sunday was a monumental day for the Golden Bears. Not only did the team beat UCLA 198.400-197.775 in the “Battle for California,” it also marked the record for best score in team history. And, if that wasn’t enough, Frazier (whose sister Margzetta is a sixth-year senior for the Bruins) had the best individual all-around score (39.825) in Cal history and earned her second perfect 10.0 of the year, and first on floor.

Mya Lauzon, California: In the final rotation of the afternoon Sunday, not long after Frazier’s triumph on floor, Lauzon reminded everyone of why she’s the reigning Pac-12 champion on beam. Showing off her impressive flexibility, creativity, poise and a flawless triple series, Lauzon notched her second perfect score on the event, and first of 2024.


Back-to-back

It’s hard to know where to start with Michigan State’s remarkable win Friday. Competing at the first of two “Big Five” meets held at Penn State, the Spartans closed out the night with a 49.475 on floor, for a 197.275 final score and the victory over conference rivals Ohio State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Rutgers.

But that’s not all.

With the win, Michigan State clinched the team’s second straight regular-season Big Ten title and became the fourth team in Big Ten history to have an undefeated (9-0) record in conference competition. So yeah, it was a pretty big night for the Spartans, who will be the top seed and the host of next month’s Big Ten championships.

“It means so much,” head coach Mike Rowe said after the meet about becoming back-to-back Big Ten regular-season champions. “But we’ve got to get back in the gym. We’ve got a lot of work to do. The season’s not over yet but I’m really, really happy for these guys and all the hard work they put in this season.”


Best of the rest

Sierra Brooks, Michigan: Competing in the second “Big Five” meet, the Wolverines graduate student led the team to victory over Illinois, Penn State, Iowa and Maryland with her latest huge day. Brooks won her fifth straight all-around title (39.650), as well as the floor title with a nearly-perfect 9.975 routine featuring powerful — and perfectly controlled — tumbling, and precise and intricate movement throughout.

Lilly Tubbs, Washington: The Huskies lost to Arizona State, but the team still recorded its best score of the season (196.500) and Tubbs matched her career-high best on bars with a 9.95 — the highest individual event score of the day. Come for her impressive release moves and double layout dismount, stay for the look of sheer elation and relief on her face at the end.

Cassie Stevens, Auburn: In her final competition at Neville Arena, the fifth-year senior gave Tigers fans something to remember as she led the squad to victory over Missouri with her fourth all-around title of the season (39.625), as well as the title on vault and a share of it on floor and beam. Trailing at the halfway point of the meet, Stevens helped her team rally with a clutch 9.925 on beam to take over the lead ahead of the final rotation.

Emily Lee, UCLA: It was a disappointing day for the Bruins overall during the loss to Cal, but Lee did everything she could — and more — to give her team a chance. Competing in the (often undesirable) leadoff spot on three events, the junior earned 9.95s on floor and beam and won the vault title with a stuck Yurchenko full that matched her career-high score of a 9.90.


Key meets for this weekend

Friday: Alabama at LSU; 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Friday: Kent State and Bowling Green at Ohio State; 6:30 p.m. ET on B1G+

Friday: Auburn at Georgia; 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network

Friday: New Hampshire at Michigan State; 7 p.m. ET on B1G+

Friday: Michigan at Oklahoma; 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Friday: UCLA at Stanford; 8 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Networks

Friday: Minnesota, Washington and UC Davis at Boise State; 9 p.m. ET on Mountain West Network

Friday: Arizona State at Oregon State; 10 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Networks

Saturday: Utah at California; 5 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Insider

Sunday: Florida at Kentucky; 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Sunday: North Carolina at Nebraska; 2 p.m. ET ON B1G+

Sunday: Oklahoma, Clemson and Penn at Texas Woman’s; 3 p.m. ET

Sunday: San Jose State, Lindenwood and Air Force at Denver; 3 p.m. ET

Sunday: Arizona at Washington; 4 p.m. ET

Sunday: Arkansas at Missouri; 6 p.m. ET on SEC Network

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