Reigning NCAA all-around gymnastics champion Trinity Thomas of the University of Florida hit the 28th perfect 10 of her career on Saturday, equaling the 27-year-old record set by Kentucky’s Jenny Hansen in 1996 and UCLA’s Jamie Dantzscher in 2004 was set up.
Thomas scored the score on vault during the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, and after weeks of speculation about whether she would compete again this postseason due to a lower right leg injury she sustained at the Regionals last month .
“I wasn’t focused [the record] at all,” Thomas said in a TV interview after the meeting. “I was just concentrating on being out here with my team one last time. We left everything out there on the ground and I couldn’t be prouder of us.”
Thomas hadn’t practiced in the two weeks since the Regionals, but just before the competition, Florida added Thomas to their bars and vault lineups for Thursday’s semifinals. She was nearly perfect on her return on parallel bars, drilled a stuck landing on her double layout dismount and received a 10 from a judge and a total score of 9.950. Later in the match, she scored a 9.90 on vault with a tiny jump backwards, helping the Gators qualify for Saturday’s finals.
On Saturday she made history. Fifth in Florida’s third rotation and with the Gators behind defending champion Oklahoma, Thomas drilled a stuck landing on a 1½ jump from Yurchenko to win the first perfect 10 of the meet. After greeting the judges, she ran to her team and hugged and high-fived her teary-eyed teammates and coaches. When her score was released, the crowd exploded with cheers. Thomas again competed in just two events on Saturday, posting a 9.9125 on parallel bars in the final free program of her career.
“I don’t even know how to sum it up [my career],” she said. “It was the best time of my life. This fifth year has been a blessing and I will miss gymnastics so much.”
Thomas and the second-place Gators finished second overall in the championship finals, 0.15 points behind the first-place Sooners.
During this season, Thomas has said her focus is on team accomplishments, including helping Florida win its first national title since 2015, rather than an all-time record 10. “I came back for this team,” Thomas said in a TV interview after Thursday’s semifinals. “We are so special and I hope that you can feel that from the outside as well.”
After a phenomenal senior season in which she won the NCAA all-around, floor and uneven bars titles and earned 12 perfect 10s — the second best ever for a single season — Thomas announced she would be returning to the Gators as a super senior and opted for a fifth year of eligibility offered to athletes whose 2020 and 2021 seasons were curtailed due to the pandemic while working toward her Masters in Health Education and Behavior. One of the most coveted records in collegiate gymnastics, set by Hansen and Dantzscher in four seasons, seemed within reach.
Olympic (or elite) gymnastics stopped using the 10-point grading scale in 2007, but the “perfect 10” never left collegiate gymnastics. Along with the influx of Olympic gymnasts into collegiate programs, the 10-point scale is often credited with the popularity of NCAA gymnastics. “People are drawn to NCAA gymnastics because they know what a perfect 10 is,” UF coach Jenny Rowland told ESPN earlier this year. “And they always will.”
Thomas opened this season with her 21st perfect 10 on beam and hit at least one perfect 10 on every apparatus between January 6 and March 19 — known as the “gym slam” when she hit two 10s during the SEC championships.
Thomas finishes her collegiate career with 12 perfect 10s on floor, six on beam, five on parallel bars and five on vault.