Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Gymnastics challenges last year’s SEC Champions Friday night

Abby McCreary, Assistant Sports Editor

Coleman Coliseum is in for a star-studded night on Friday.  

The two most recent SEC gymnastics champions will come head-to-head on the competition floor with all three recipients of last week’s SEC’s honors awards in attendance.  

No. 11 Alabama welcomes No. 2 Florida to Tuscaloosa, the teams’ first rematch since the Crimson Tide fell just behind the Gators in last year’s SEC championship, its attempt at a title defense.  

Alabama is excited for the rematch, and sophomore Lilly Hudson said the matchup will be a great show.  

“It’s going to be a good meet; they’re a great team but so are we,” Hudson said. “They have such great gymnastics, and it pushes all of us to be better. We’re excited for a great meet filled with a lot of competitiveness.” 

Florida’s Leanne Wong and Kayla DiCello and Alabama’s Gabby Gladieux will bring the best competition in the SEC to the floor as the recipients of Week Two’s SEC Gymnast, Specialist and Freshman of the Week, respectively.  

Wong especially was the talk of the nation last weekend — she became the first gymnast in the nation to achieve a pair of 10s in a single meet, earned this year’s highest all-around score in the nation with a 39.825, and set or matched three collegiate bests.  

Alabama head coach Ashley Johnston said that she’s excited for the high-caliber gymnastics coming into Coleman Coliseum on Friday, but she wants her team to focus on themselves and what they bring to the floor.  

“This is going to be a great matchup, but we need to focus on our controllables,” Johnston said. “We can’t worry about who the other team is, what they’re doing. There’s no defense in gymnastics. All you can do is play offense so we’re going to put the best six up: whoever’s healthy, whoever’s mentally, emotionally, physically prepared to hit at that moment.” 

Although both teams are coming into the meet undefeated, Alabama did not see the same dominant success that Florida did last weekend. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Crimson Tide pushed through stumbles and falls to defeat the Razorbacks on their home floor.  

Johnston said that last week’s meet will help the program in the long run.  

“I think meets like we just had at Arkansas are great preparation for what it’s going to look like at the end of the season,” Johnston said. “It’s about who takes care of those mistakes and recovers the best. Who has a little mess up but still supports the next person who’s up.” 

Senior Ella Burgess says that the Crimson Tide’s performance at Arkansas prepared each gymnast to act as a part of the team at Friday’s meet against Florida, and hopefully the remaining meets of the season as well.  

“There were hiccups in the road but we bounced back even better,” Burgess said. “We had each other’s backs throughout the entire meet, so if someone went down, someone else stepped up. I thought that was really big and that’s going to carry on with us the rest of the season.  We’re capable of a lot and you haven’t seen it all yet.” 

The first rotation will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday, Jan. 20, and the matchup will air on ESPNU.  

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

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