A Historic Weekend for Alabama Gymnastics
The Alabama gymnastics team made history Sunday afternoon when they scored their second 198 in a single weekend. Friday night, the team scored the second highest overall score in program history with a 198.075.
The last time an Alabama gymnastics team recorded two consecutive overall scores of 198 or better was in 1996 when the Tide scored 198.075 at the NCAA Regionals meet and a 198.025 at the NCAA Super Six meet. Alabama never scored a 198+ in the same weekend, however.
Crimson Tide fans traveled to Huntsville to watch the Alabama gymnastics compete at the Elevate the Stage meet against Auburn, Arkansas, and Georgia. Senior Emily Gaskins led the Tide off strong on the uneven bars with a 9.900. All five scores Alabama counted on the event were a 9.900 or better, including a career high 9.950 for Cam Machado. Head coach Dana Duckworth said she was proud of how consistent her team was this weekend.
"To score a 198 on Friday and then come back and do it again this afternoon, less than 48 hours later, will help our ladies feel confident and prepared as we head into the championship season,” Duckworth said.
Following the strong start on bars, Alabama led Auburn by two-tenths of a point. Arkansas and Georgia never got within .200 of Auburn after the first rotation.
The Tide saw a slight dip in scores after they finished the beam rotation. Only one gymnast scored a 9.900 on the event. Luisa Blanco had an uncharacteristic balance break on beam which led to a season-low score of 9.650. Auburn closed the gap slightly, ending the second rotation with a 98.775 compared to Bama’s 98.950.
Crimson Tide fans were slightly worried about Blanco’s health after she didn’t compete on the floor exercise. Duckworth said Blanco didn’t injure herself on beam but kept her out of the lineup for precautionary reasons.
“The second day in a row, her legs gave out on her. I think she wasn’t expecting it, so I just made a safety judgement call not to use her on floor,” Duckworth said.
Alabama gymnasts performed well on floor, however, with freshman Lilly Hudson and super-senior Lexi Graber scoring 9.950s on the event. Junior Cam Machado scored a 9.925 on floor to help the Crimson Tide finish the third rotation with an overall score of 148.500. The Tigers still trailed by .125 heading into the final rotation.
Consistency hasn’t been a strength for the Tide as they’ve struggled to put up big scores on every event during the same meet this season. For example, the vaulting lineup would perform great vaults, but the beam lineup wouldn’t hit their routines well.
Going into the final event, vault, Alabama needed a strong performance on vault if they wanted to beat the Tigers because Auburn ended on their best event, beam.
Senior Shallon Olsen led the Tide off with a 9.900, her sixth of the season. The rest of the vault lineup followed her lead and had a solid performance on the event. Blanco returned to competition and stuck a Yurchenko-1.5 to score a season high 9.950. Graber anchored the lineup with a 9.875 which allowed Bama to drop Hudson’s 9.825. Graber’s vault secured the win for Alabama and gave them their second 198 of the season.
The Alabama gymnastics team gets one weekend off from competition before they travel to Birmingham for the Southeastern Conference Championship. Duckworth said the team will focus on getting healthy during the break.
“Rest and nutrition will be key to our success, and then we’ll have some days off,” Duckworth said. “We’ll build back up and continue to focus on putting our girls under pressure in practice, but also working the fine details to be able to be that much more precise.”
The SEC Championship meet will be split up into two sessions with the lowest ranked four SEC teams competing at 2:30 p.m. and the top four teams competing at 7 p.m. Fans who aren’t able to make it to the meet can watch on the SEC Network.
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