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 hopes to bounce back against Wildcats

Abby McCreary, Assistant Sports Editor

Following last Friday’s loss at home, Alabama gymnastics is traveling to Lexington, Kentucky, this weekend to challenge the No. 10 Wildcats.  

Head coach Ashley Johnston said that competing against Kentucky in Memorial Coliseum will be much tougher than last week’s meet in front of a sold-out home student section.  

“Kentucky’s a great team,” Johnston said. “Year in and year out, they’ve been a team to watch. They’ve been on the rise for quite a while now. We expect it to be a really great matchup, and we expect it to be a tough environment.” 

The No. 13 Crimson Tide lineup is expected to be at full strength, with both graduate student Shallon Olsen and senior Makarri Doggette recovering from their minor injuries. Johnston said every gymnast has been working hard on perfecting their routines as well as preparing to execute them in an unfamiliar environment.  

“That’s how we’re going to prepare this week, by doing our best to mimic the environment we’ll be put in on Friday,” Johnston said. “We create scenarios where we go through our lineups and try to put some distractions into the mix so they learn how to adapt, how to not let that faze them, just how to drown out the outside noise so they can focus on what they need to do.”  

Both Alabama (2-1) and Kentucky (3-2) dropped in the rankings this week after losing to SEC rivals, No. 2 Florida and No. 17 Georgia, respectively. Both teams also had their lowest scores of the season on the uneven bars.  

Two falls on the bars attributed to the Crimson Tide’s 48.675 against Florida, but the mistakes motivated the team to score season-highs on the beam and floor.  

Senior Luisa Blanco said that the team chemistry was amazing on Friday night, especially when they rallied behind the falls.  

“Even though we had that fall, we didn’t hold back,” Blanco said. “We were going for the handstand, we were going for the stick, and I think that’s something you have to do early in the season just to build that confidence.” 

Although Blanco was scratched from the Friday-night vault lineup at the last minute, she excelled in the rest of the meet, ending with a 9.950 on the floor. She is expected to return to the all-around competition this Friday against the Wildcats. 

Alabama’s last time out saw three absent veteran gymnasts, two falls and a loss to Florida — the Crimson Tide has a lot more hope for this upcoming meet.  

“I feel like we are making the strides we need to take,” Johnston said. “Once we get everybody back into the lineup mix, we’re going to be right where we want to be.”  

Freshman Lillian Lewis, who had her Coleman Coliseum debut last week, says she is hoping to bring the lessons learned against Florida to Kentucky.  

“Each mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow,” Lewis said. “It’s a learning experience and we have so much potential within this team, and I know we’re going to push back and push even harder next time.” 

The first rotation, with Alabama on the bars, will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT, Jan. 27, in Lexington, Kentucky. The meet will air on SEC Network. 

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

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