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From ‘Squid Game’ to ‘Succession’: NCAA Gymnastics Routines You Can't Miss This Season

Top competitors like Trinity Thomas, Mya Hooten and Lynnzee Brown put on performances that have perfect-10 potential each time they step out on the floor.

The start of a new NCAA gymnastics season means fresh floor routines, and the music many gymnasts are performing to this year may sound familiar if you’ve been binge watching Netflix or listening to chart-topping pop songs.

From TV themes to top-40 hits, these are a few of the can’t-miss routines that have the perfect combination of choreography, confidence and star power to go viral this year.

(From L to R) Minnesota's Mya Hooten, Florida's Trinity Thomas and Michigan's Gabby Wilson perform their floor routines.

(From L to R): Minnesota's Mya Hooten, Florida's Trinity Thomas and Michigan's Gabby Wilson perform on floor exercise. 

UCLA freshman Brooklyn Moors, who represented Canada at the 2020 Olympics, caught the attention of Bruins fans with a dramatic routine backed by a mix that includes a piece from The Godfather and the theme song from Succession. In her collegiate debut, she nailed her first tumbling pass, an extremely difficult front handspring double front tuck, and went on to earn a 9.875.

“I do my best to engage, and it’s more of a performance rather than just going through the motions,” she says. “I like to give people goosebumps.”

Moors isn’t the only gymnast pulling tracks from TV shows. Florida star Trinity Thomas uses music from the Netflix hit Squid Game. She earned a perfect 10 for her performance in the Gators’ meet against Alabama on Jan. 16 and says the routine makes her feel “confident and definitely a little bit intimidating.”

The secret to her “mysterious” style, she says, is eye contact and fierce facial expressions.

“You can use your eyes to bring people in,” Thomas explains, adding that she makes a point to look into the camera when performing on floor. “People are like, ‘Whoa, it felt like you were looking into my soul!’”

Michigan’s Gabby Wilson opted for a TV throwback with her mix, which includes the theme songs from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Everybody Hates Chris. The reigning champion Wolverines are the top-ranked team on floor, and Wilson has anchored Michigan’s lineup the past two weeks with back-to-back scores of 9.950.

NCAA gymnasts are also borrowing songs from the silver screen.

BYU’s Sadie Miner-Van Tassell performs to a mix of pieces from Rocky and Creed while Lexy Ramler, the NCAA all-around runner-up in 2019, uses Aloe Blacc’s “I’m Comin’ Home” from the Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw. With the help of assistant coach Geralen Stack-Eaton, Ramler says she and her teammates at Minnesota all try to fit the university’s slogan, “Ski-U-Mah,” into the beats of their music so the crowd can chant along.

Commanding an audience with choreography or music can elevate a floor routine, and Nya Reed says she considers that when choosing her music and dance moves. She sent Florida choreographer Jeremy Miranda “a list of 50 different songs,” and the two ultimately came up with a sassy hip-hop routine set to a mix of tracks by Missy Elliott, DMX, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West and more.

Reed earned a 9.950 the first time she performed the routine on Jan. 7 but bested herself a week later, becoming the first gymnast to earn a 10 on floor this season. It was the first perfect score of her career and a goal she spoke into existence by tweeting about it the day before the Gators’ competition against Alabama.

Lynnzee Brown—who was the 2019 NCAA floor national co-champion—brings a similar energy that she describes as “upbeat” and “hype” when doing her routine, which is set to Beyoncé‘s “Bootylicious,” “Naughty Girl” and Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills.” The Denver graduate student says her favorite part is the opening choreography before her first tumbling pass because it’s straight out of a Beyoncé music video.

“I just really want to be Beyoncé,” she says with a laugh. “I feel like I’m living out my dream for that two seconds.”

Queen Bey is quite popular among collegiate gymnasts, as Mya Hooten was inspired by the artist’s 2018 Coachella performance. She debuted the routine on Jan. 17 and recorded a 9.900 after sticking her second tumbling pass perfectly.

Hooten, who is a sophomore at Minnesota and scored the program’s first perfect 10 on floor last season, chose Beyoncé‘s “Freedom” for her music. The goal of the performance, she says, is to “shout out the little girls who look like me. I want them to not be afraid to just do their thing and not to hold back.”

With more NCAA gymnastics meets airing on television this year than ever before, fans will have the opportunity to catch these routines live all season long. 

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