Dogette, Gladieux shine in gymnastics’ home win

Abby McCreary, Assistant Sports Editor

It was “Frozen Night” at Coleman Coliseum, but the Alabama Gymnastics team still brought the fire to its season opener Friday night against the Michigan State Spartans.  

In front of a crowd of little Elsas and light-up blue crowns, the Crimson Tide achieved its second highest score in a season opener in program history, defeating the Spartans 196.975-196.550.   

Head coach Ashley Johnston said that while she’s celebrating the win, she’s most proud that her team accomplished its goal.  

“I’m really proud of this team,” Johnston said. “Our goal tonight was to really commit to the approach. I didn’t want to get distracted by the score, the win or the loss. I felt like we did that tonight and we accomplished our goal.” 

The Crimson Tide not only won the meet, but each event as well, the highest score being a 49.325 on the vault. The all-around also went to the Crimson Tide, with senior Luisa Blanco posting a 39.575 on the night.  

Although Alabama had only Blanco and sophomore Lilly Hudson slated for the all-around, senior Makarri Doggette made a last-second appearance, competing all-around for the first time since her freshman season.  

“After three events, [Doggette] showed the type of energy and the type of focus that we were looking to see,” Johnston said. “We made a quick switch, put her in the floor lineup, and she really thrived. She rose to the opportunity.” 

Doggette earned the highest score on the bars for both teams with a 9.900 and tied Michigan State’s Sage Kellerman and Gabrielle Stephen for another 9.900 on the vault. Despite the high scores, Doggette said that she’s most excited about her all-around performance. 

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Doggette said. “I couldn’t have done it without these 18 amazing girls next to me. You can’t do that without a family like we have.” 

Freshman Gabby Gladieux competed with Doggette during three of the night’s events, including a 9.900 on the floor for her college debut. Her floor routine finished only behind Blanco, who is an All-American and 2021 SEC Gymnast of the Year.  

“I’ve been raving about this girl [Gladieux] since she got here,” Doggette said. “I knew she was going to go out there and kill it just like she always does in the gym. The way you practice is the way you compete and that’s exactly what she did tonight.” 

For Gladieux, this night has been a long time coming. The freshman says she’s looked forward to wearing the script A since she was a kid. 

“It’s been my dream since I was 11 years old,” Gladieux said. “To just come in, feel the energy of the crowd, the energy of my best friends besides me, it was quite literally a dream come true.”  

Despite the anticipation for her first meet, Gladieux said that her floor routine was the product of staying in the moment. 

“I didn’t want to get ahead of myself,” Gladieux said. “I just wanted to soak in all the lights, the sounds, and just be present. I think I really did that, and I heard my 18 sisters cheering me on and that’s what put me on top.” 

Between a stellar freshman, a surprise all-arounder and the all-around winner, the Crimson Tide put on a show for its first home meet of the season. While the standards are high, Johnston said she is confident her team is on the right track to meet them.  

“We have a good baseline to build from,” Johnston said. “We definitely had some mistakes here and there. I do believe the approach was correct so now it’s about honing in on those little details that create that polish we’re looking for.” 

Alabama’s next meet is in Fayetteville, Arkansas, against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The meet begins at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday, Jan. 13, and will air on SEC Network. 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]