Gymnastics edges past rival Bulldogs in Georgia

Abby McCreary, Assistant Sports Editor

Another rivalry, another close call. Just like the Iron Bowl of gymnastics matchup earlier this month, Alabama gymnastics barely edged past one of its rivals once again, this time the Georgia Bulldogs, with a score of 197.525-197.325, in their home arena. 

“We really had to fight for this one tonight,” said head coach Ashley Johnston. “Competing in back-to-back away meets is never easy on a team, and I was really proud of the way we went for it tonight and continued to work and adjust.” 

Although No. 9 Alabama (6-3, 4-2 SEC) led at the end of each rotation, the No. 19 Bulldogs (6-8, 1-4 SEC) pulled together an impressive floor routine that gave them a fighting chance in the final rotation. Totaling 49.500, it helped push Georgia over the 197 mark for the first time this season.  

On the other side of the gym, the Crimson Tide slipped below the 198 it accomplished at the Metroplex Challenge last weekend. With less than a week to recover and the exact same gymnasts in each routine’s lineup, the turnaround was fast, but Alabama barely showed it. Despite having a lower overall score than the last two meets, the Crimson Tide’s 197.525 still beats all the other ones, showing a lot of progress from the beginning of the season. 

Graduate student Shallon Olsen earned season high scores on the vault and floor — 9.950 and 9.875 respectively— and senior Ella Burgess earned her season high 9.950 on the beam. Several other gymnasts tied both season and career bests throughout the night, and the floor routine remained the Crimson Tide’s strongest rotation with all scores above 9.800.  

As Alabama battled to win each rotation, its anchor for three out of the four events stole the show. Senior Luisa Blanco earned a 9.950 in each event she anchored and a 9.900 in the one she didn’t: the vault. She won the all-around with a score of 39.750, tying her season best.  

Johnston said that her team’s score shows the gymnasts’ resiliency throughout the night. 

“It wasn’t always easy, but we plugged away and fought for every tenth,” Johnston said. “I think that is going to be what we learned most from tonight: how to be fighters.” 

After a two-week period on the road, next weekend Alabama will return home to compete against the No. 8 Louisiana State University Tigers. The meet, which will be both Title IX Appreciation Night and Alumni Night, will begin at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, Feb. 24, in Coleman Coliseum. It will be televised on SEC Network+. 

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