Gymnastics falls to No. 1 Oklahoma, Kentucky in NCAA Regional

Abby McCreary, Assistant Sports Editor

An exciting year under first-year gymnastics head coach Ashley Johnston ended prematurely in Oklahoma on Saturday night.  

Weeks of staying at the top of the national rankings, perfect scores and a consistently sold-out Coleman Coliseum came to a halt when the Alabama gymnastics team finished fourth out of four teams at the NCAA Regional Championships, failing to advance to the championships. 

“Tonight is hard,” Johnston said. “It was an overall great competition between four really competitive teams, and we just left too many tenths out there.” 

Despite increasing its event scores every rotation, the No. 8 Crimson Tide still trailed behind its competition at the end of every rotation, and its 197.650 fell below No. 1 University of Oklahoma, No. 9 University of Kentucky and No. 15 Ohio State University.  

Eleven scores of 9.9 or higher, including two 9.950s on the final rotation of floor, were not enough to send Alabama to the next level. Instead, Oklahoma, which managed to win the final despite counting a fall, and Kentucky, which Alabama beat in the SEC Championship, will continue to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Johnston said that although she wishes she was taking her team to Fort Worth, she is happy with the team’s progress.  

“Even though tonight didn’t go the way we wanted it to, I’m proud of the way we continued to fight and get better on every single event as we progressed through the competition,” Johnston said. 

That has certainly been the case for the Crimson Tide season as well.  

It’s been an up-and-down season for Alabama that seemed to be on the up after coming in second at the SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide had exciting wins over rivals Auburn and Georgia but also, disappointing losses to SEC Tigers LSU and Missouri. Three gymnasts — seniors Luisa Blanco and Makarri Doggette and sophomore Lilly Hudson — achieved the coveted perfect 10s. Experienced veterans, excited freshmen and eager coaches joined forces to fill Coleman Coliseum with daunting routines and Alabama atmosphere.  

Although the Crimson Tide was forced to count some falls this season, it still ended with an impressive 198.000 high score, 197.720 NQS and 197.311 average.  

Although disappointed with how soon her debut season came to an end, Johnston said she’s already looking ahead.  

“It’s times like this where we come together and remind each other that we’re a family and that we’re going to stick together through the highs and lows,” Johnston said. “It’s important to be able to turn the page and trust that the best is still yet to come for Alabama gymnastics.” 

Although the Crimson Tide as a team is finished, Blanco qualified for the NCAA Championships as an individual after her 9.975 on the uneven bars during Thursday’s semifinal on March 30. She will represent Alabama in Fort Worth April 15-17.