Gymnastics narrowly wins first road meet

Abby McCreary, Assistant Sports Editor

Despite a night filled with falls, stumbles and uncharacteristic errors on both sides of the gym, Alabama gymnastics defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks in its first meet on the road this season. After last year’s winless road schedule, the 196.475-195.525 win offers a glimmer of hope for the rest of the Crimson Tide’s away slate.  

“We had a few uncharacteristic mistakes,” head coach Ashley Johnston said. “They did a great job of not letting that affect their approach.” 

In the second rotation, Arkansas struggled. Freshman Cally Swaney and graduate student Kennedy Hambrick fell during their routines, and freshman Reese Drotar faltered during a handstand on the bars. Although the lowest score, an 8.925, was dropped, the Razorbacks were forced to count two of the lowest scores of the night, a 9.150 and 8.975, contributing to the lowest event score of the night, 47.750. 

While Alabama was more successful during the second rotation, the Crimson Tide didn’t display the same dominance it did in their home opener. All six vault competitors from last week returned for tonight’s lineup, and all six posted lower scores. The Crimson Tide only lost the event by .150, though, so at the end of the rotation, Alabama still led Arkansas 98.300-96.900. 

With a substantial 1.4-point lead in place, Alabama had some room for error in the second half. An uncharacteristic stumble from sophomore Lilly Hudson on the floor and an unfortunate slip-and-fall from senior Luisa Blanco on the beam were just two of the multiple errors that resulted in the Crimson Tide losing the last two events. Although Alabama lost every event but the bars, the Crimson Tide had enough points to edge out a win by the end of the night.  

In Alabama’s final event of the night, the balance beam, freshman Lillian Lewis and senior Ella Burgess made their season debuts. For Lewis, it was also her Alabama debut, and in her first collegiate routine she posted a 9.775. 

Although Arkansas didn’t have any competitors in the all-around last week, UCLA transfer Norah Flatley took home the title with a 39.575. Her impressive night started with 9.900s on her first three events and ended with a 9.875 on the floor. Her all-around score was more than a full point higher than the Alabama competitors, Hudson and Blanco.  

In the long run, Johnston said her team had a lot to take away from its first away meet.  

“I feel like meets like this build a lot of resilience and will pay off in the long run for us,” Johnston said.  

The Crimson Tide returns home next week on Friday, Jan. 20, to challenge No. 2 Florida, a team that boasts three perfect 10s in their meet tonight. The first event begins at 6:30 pm CT and can be watched on ESPNU.  

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