The SEC dominates NCAA gymnastics

Charlotte Stephan

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The SEC dominates NCAA gymnastics

While the trees begin to empty their leaves and the snow begins to fall, I spend my days looking forward to spending Friday nights on the couch watching my favorite college winter sport: college gymnastics.

As the years go by, the gymnasts that cycle through the sport of gymnastics become more advanced and creative with their skills. There are so many incredibly talented gymnasts that enter the Big Ten, Big 12, MAC, and Pac-12, but I have found the most entertaining meets to watch come from the teams in the SEC. 

The SEC Network hosts Friday Night Heights, which began in 2014, where they give insight into the sport of gymnastics. It provides visuals on everything from the angles of handstands on the bars to the height and distance someone obtains on the vault. Along with these, it includes the requirements needed for routines along with certain ways gymnasts can have points deducted. With this easy way of learning the sport, I have gotten my friends and family hooked on watching Friday Night Heights with me every week.

There are eight different SEC schools with gymnastics programs, and I predict that the University of Florida will win a conference title this year. The Florida Gators have already won eleven SEC championships with their most recent being just last year. Their team is stacked with many top-ranked gymnasts, one of which is returning “super senior” Trinity Thomas. She has already earned herself a total of twenty perfect 10s between all four events and is a 27-time All-American along with many other awards. With a few months left of training before the season begins, I am sure that she will use that time to add a few more skills to her book so she can come out and win a back-to-back NCAA all-around championship. Another Gator to look out for this year is sophomore Leanne Wong. Leanne was a 2020 Tokyo Olympics alternate and was also on the All-SEC freshman team last year. I believe that her impressive skills and beautiful lines are going to take her far in the competition this year.

Along with the Gators, I see the Auburn Tigers going further than usual this year. Despite their third-place finish in the conference last year, they were able to pull through and place fourth in the NCAA tournament. Although she was only a freshman, Sunisa Lee was one of the top athletes in both the program and the NCAA competition. Suni is the 2020 Tokyo Olympic all-around gold medal winner, and because of that, she knows how to handle the pressure. Her incredible talent on the bars led her to the first-place spot at the NCAA Championships, and I don’t doubt that she will hold that title for her remaining three years.

As the gymnasts begin to prepare for their season, I encourage everyone to clear their Friday nights and use them to spend time watching the most entertaining winter sport out there.