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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

Missteps on balance beam ends Alabama gymnastics’ national title hopes

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama gymnast Cam Machado performs a wolf turn during the NCAA National Semifinal at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX on Thursday, Apr 18, 2024.

Alabama gymnastics competed in the NCAA national championship semifinals Thursday, and to advance to the Final Four it needed to place in the top two teams of its session. The evening did not turn out in the Crimson Tide’s favor. In the session, Alabama faced Oklahoma, Florida and Utah. Alabama came in as the underdogs, ranked No. 6 in the nation compared with No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Utah. 

The semifinal ended with Alabama in last with a score of 195.4125. First place was Utah with a score of 197.9375, second place was Florida with a score of 197.8750, and third place was Oklahoma with a score of 196.6625.  

“Tonight didn’t go quite the way we wanted it to go,” head coach Ashley Johnston said. “The team was really excited coming in; I felt like we had a great mentality and we started really strong on bars, going after handstands and really nailing landings. That was a huge momentum-builder, to be able to start with such a great bar lineup, and was a really good way to start the meet.” 

Following the first rotation, Alabama was in second place after posting a 49.4877 on the uneven bars. For the Crimson Tide, graduate student Luisa Blanco posted the highest score with a 9.9375.  

The NCAA national champions on the uneven bars were Oklahoma’s Audrey Davis and Florida’s Leanne Wong, who each posted a 9.9625.  

The first rotation was full of shock for everyone in Dickies Arena as Oklahoma had three falls during its vault rotation. This landed the Sooners in fourth place with a score of 48.325. In first place was Utah and in third place was Florida. On the balance beam, Utah suffered from a fall.  

The second rotation was full of heartbreak for the Crimson Tide. The Alabama gymnasts were on the balance beam for the second rotation and suffered four falls. Graduate student Mati Waligora, graduate student Ella Burgess, senior Shania Adams and Blanco all suffered from falls, each scoring below a 9.3. The highest score came from sophomore Gabby Gladieux, who posted a 9.875.  Alabama posted a 47.25 to bring its total to 96.7375 and put the Crimson Tide in last place. Utah stayed in first with a total score of 99.225. Florida was in second with a score of 98.95, and Oklahoma was in third with a score of 97.9875. Utah’s score put Alabama within 2.5 points of first. 

[We] went into beam and started strong with Lilly knocking it out of the park with a 9.9 and then after that, we really lost momentum,” Johnston said. “Once you dig yourself in a hole, it’s hard to recover and battle that expectation and pressure, and unfortunately, we just lost that battle.”  

The NCAA national champions on the balance beam were Oklahoma’s Davis and Faith Torrez, each of whom posted a 9.9625.  

After the third rotation, Alabama was still in fourth place with a score of 146.15 after posting a 49.4125 on the floor. For the Crimson Tide, Blanco and Gladieux had the highest score with a 9.9. During the third rotation, Oklahoma also suffered from two falls on the balance beam.  

The NCAA national champion on the floor was LSU’s Aleah Finnegan with a score of 9.9625.  

For the fourth rotation, Alabama competed on the vault and scored a 49.2625 to bring its total score to 195.4125. The highest score for the Crimson Tide came from junior Lilly Hudson, who posted a 9.8875. On the balance beam, Florida suffered a fall during its fourth rotation.  

The NCAA national champion on the vault was Stanford’s Anna Roberts, who posted a 9.95.   

The NCAA all-around champion was LSU’s Haleigh Bryant with a score of 39.7125.  

The season is over for the Alabama Crimson Tide, but the NCAA national championship finals are Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. The finals consist of Utah, LSU, California and Florida. 

“We’ve had an incredible season, and tonight does not define what we’ve done this year,” Johnston said. “Unfortunately, it just didn’t go our way tonight, and sometimes that happens. I’m excited about the group that we have here, the culture they built and how we’re going to move forward.” 

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