For Alabama gymnastics, competition is key following Florida loss

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The No. 11 Alabama gymnastics team faced its toughest challenge of the young season on Friday night against the No. 2 Florida Gators. After a tough go on the uneven bars, with both Makarri Doggette and Shallon Olsen absent, the Crimson Tide suffered its first loss of the campaign. 

Nevertheless, the competitors and the coach each stressed the importance of tough challenges, especially early in the slate. 

“It’s extremely important for us to be able to compete with the best of the best at the end of the season — it’s important to have those matchups throughout the season as well,” Alabama head coach Ashley Johnston said. “Florida is an amazing team, one of the top teams in the country. I think we showed that we can hang with them. … I think that says a lot about what this team is capable of.” 

She pointed out that the meet was a learning opportunity, and her team will grow and benefit long-term from Friday’s results. 

“I think this team learned from it, they grew from it, and it’s just going to help them in the end,” Johnston said. 

The Crimson Tide rallied after two falls on bars, finishing with five scores of 9.900 or greater in the last two events. One of those scores belonged to sophomore Lilly Hudson, whose 9.925 on the floor was Alabama’s second-highest individual score of the night. Only senior Luisa Blanco’s 9.950 in the event’s final act was higher. 

“Everybody in the SEC is good,” Hudson said. “Just to be up against that right now is key. We’re just going to keep getting better from here on out.” 

Freshman Gabby Gladieux competed in three events against the Gators and scored a 9.900 on floor, helping her squad to a win in that category to close out the meet.  

“It’s a privilege, and it’s a testament to how tough this conference is,” Gladieux said. “I think we’re up there, and we have so much more left in the tank.” 

Johnston said the meet helped the Crimson Tide get better. 

“[The rally] says a lot about this team, and how they come together and just commit to each moment,” she said. “I think we’ll continue to see people step up as we move forward throughout the season.” 

Alabama will will have a chance to put these lessons into practice on the road against Kentucky on Friday, Jan. 27. 

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