York's Trinity Thomas advances to NCAA gymnastics finals with Florida

The former West York athlete returned from injury to compete in two events and push the Gators into Saturday's final.

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

Trinity Thomas' super-senior season of college gymnastics will continue into the NCAA championship final.

The York native and reigning NCAA all-around, floor exercise and uneven bars champion helped Florida place second its NCAA semifinal Thursday afternoon, battling back from injury to post crucial scores on the bars and vault. The No. 2-seed Gators will be one of four teams competing in the final Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas.

Florida's Trinity Thomas prepares to compete on the uneven bars during the NCAA college women's gymnastics championships, Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Thomas, a former West York athlete, suffered a lower leg injury on the first night of NCAA regional action in Pittsburgh on March 31. She had been officially listed as day-to-day since, and her status for Thursday had remained up in the air. Thomas wasn't on the preliminary rotation sheets but made the game-time decision to give it a go on the uneven bars. The three-time SEC Gymnast of the Year posted a 9.95 score on the apparatus, then made an even more surprising appearance on the vault and stuck her landing for a 9.90.

The NCAA team semifinals also serve as individual championships for each discipline, as well as the all-around title. Because Thomas only participated in two events Thursday, she didn't have the chance to repeat as all-around champion. Her list of career accolades, though, is already as lengthy as they come.

Thomas is a 32-time All-American (nine NCAA, 23 WGCA). In addition to her national titles last year, she also has a pair of all-around crowns in the SEC, the nation's most decorated gymnastics conference. Thomas won the SEC vault title as a freshman in 2019, added the vault and floor in 2022 and captured bars and floor championships in 2023. And her team won league regular-season championships in all five of her seasons.

Florida is one of the premier gymnastics programs in the country but has not won a national championship since 2015. The Gators missed nationals in 2019, didn't have the chance to make it back due to the pandemic in 2020, returned to finish third in 2021 and placed second last year. Thomas' return for a fifth year of college gymnastics was rooted in the opportunity to capture a team title. She'll get that chance Saturday.

Florida's Trinity Thomas competes on the uneven bars during an NCAA gymnastics meet against Georgia on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

"We are so special, and I hope you can feel that even from the outside," Thomas said of her team in a post-meet interview with ESPN. "We honestly need to just go out there on Saturday and be us. ... I can't wait to step out here again on the floor one final time with this Gators team, because they mean the world to me."

No. 6 LSU placed first at Thursday's first semifinal in Fort Worth with a team score of 197.475, narrowly ahead of Florida's 197.400. No. 7 California placed third with 196.9125, with No. 14 Denver at 196.500.

No. 5-ranked Utah won Thursday's second semifinal with 198.225, while defending champion and No. 1 Oklahoma reached the final with a 198.1625. They held off No. 4 UCLA (197.9125) and No. 8 Kentucky (197.125).

Thomas' 27 career perfect 10s are one short of the NCAA all-time record; UCLA's Jamie Dantzscher and Kentucky's Jenny Hansen finished their careers with 28. Thomas has seven perfect scores this season and will need one in the championship finals to tie the record. She posted a 10 on the floor exercise in last year's team final and semifinal, but her status for the event remains unclear entering Saturday.

One of the most accomplished athletes in York County history, Thomas has, at most, four routines left in her college career. And there's only one championship left to chase — the one she's coveted most of all.