Trinity Thomas' NCAA gymnastics record is exclamation point on brilliant career

The York native recorded her 28th career perfect 10 at Saturday's NCAA championship finals, tying the all-time mark.

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

Trinity Thomas’ chase for NCAA gymnastics history went all the way down to the wire. And in the final competition of her decorated five-year career, she ran down one of the sport’s premier records.

Thomas, a York native and former West York athlete, tied the all-time mark for perfect 10s in a collegiate gymnastics career with a perfect score on the vault at Saturday’s NCAA championship final in Fort Worth, Texas. Her 28th career 10.0 tied her with UCLA's Jamie Dantzscher and Kentucky's Jenny Hansen for the most in history.

Florida's Trinity Thomas, center, celebrates with teammates after competing in the vault during the final of the NCAA women's gymnastics championships Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

No. 2-seed Florida, for the second year in a row, finished as the national runner-up against No. 1 Oklahoma. The Gators’ 198.2375 team score was just behind the Sooners’ 198.3875. Thomas, the reigning NCAA all-around champion, competed only on the vault and uneven bars this weekend after suffering a lower right leg injury during regionals; her 9.9125 on the bars in the final rotation officially closed her career.

The record was simply the cherry on top. 

Thomas’ accolades already included the 2022 all-around, uneven bars and floor exercise national championships; three SEC Gymnast of the Year honors and a pair of league all-around titles; the 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year; the 2022 Honda Award; and a school-record 142 event victories, just for starters. She added two All-American performances at Thursday’s meet to give her 34 in her career (11 NCAA, 23 WCGA). And Florida won SEC regular-season titles in each of Thomas' campaigns.

These numbers may have come over the course of five years, as Thomas used her extra season of eligibility granted to all NCAA athletes who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But there should be no asterisk on Thomas’ totals, not only because the 2020 season was not completed but also because her path to the mark is unmatched in the NCAA's history.

Florida's Trinity Thomas celebrates after competing on the uneven bars during the final of the NCAA women's gymnastics championships Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Of the three college gymnasts who share the perfect 10s record, Thomas is the only one to complete the “Gym Slam” by recording a 10 in each event. She finished her career with 12 perfect scores on the floor, six on the balance beam and five each on the bars and vault. Dantzscher’s 28 included 17 on the floor, seven on the bars and four on the vault. Hansen had 22 perfect vaults and added five on the floor and one on the beam.

Only 13 college gymnasts have ever accomplished the slam, and only two — UCLA’s Kyla Ross and Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols — had completed the circle multiple times prior to Thomas. Saturday’s vault gave Thomas the achievement five times over. 

That, as much as anything, may prove to be Thomas’ lasting legacy in the sport. She was a true “all-around” champion in a way so few could have ever fathomed. In a sport where even the all-time greats tend to have a specialty, Thomas’ balance shined in unique, unforgettable fashion. 

Florida's Trinity Thomas competes on the uneven bars during the final of the NCAA women's gymnastics championships, Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

That pile of All-American honors from the WCGA (Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association) tells the story. Gymnasts are eligible for five such selections — one for each apparatus plus the all-around — each season. Thomas received 23 of a possible 25 honors in her five-year career; she was left of the vault list as a freshman and was one short of the required six all-around performances in 2022, the year she won the national all-around title.

From start to finish, she was among the best of the best in every possible way.

Thomas has put together a strong career on the worldwide elite gymnastics stage, although she has never competed in the Olympics. She announced in 2021 she was retiring from elite gymnastics and would not attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Games, but left the door cracked for a 2024 attempt in an interview with The York Dispatch later that year.

Whether she takes the floor again or not, however, Thomas’ impact on both her sport and her hometown will last beyond a lifetime.