No. 5 Alabama gymnastics falls short to No. 2 LSU, ending 6 year home streak

Kayla Montgomery

It took six years to build a 49-0 home streak in Coleman Coliseum, but the No. 5 Alabama gymnastics team came just short of win No. 50, falling to No. 2 LSU 197.35-197.225. The Tigers were the last team to beat Alabama at home in 2009.

The Crimson Tide posted its lowest bar score this month and its lowest beam score since its early beam meltdown at Arkansas which cost the team its first loss of the season. Overall, though, coach Dana Duckworth said the team took several valuable lessons away from the night, including an increased confidence in its depth in the face of last-minute lineup changes.

“So excited to see a few new faces again,” Duckworth said. “Nickie Guerrero getting out there on balance beam. So proud of literally pulling an audible at the last second and Hunter Dennis stepping in for Mack Brannen and delivering a great job. Kaitlyn [Clark] was going to go on bars and then we swapped someone else around, so this ability to do whatever we need to do to be successful to go against the No. 2 team in the country, and it be that close, I just think it speaks volumes to what we are capable of.”

Alabama opened the night with a 49.375 on vault, led by a pair of 9.90s from Clark and Lauren Beers, and led the Tigers after the first rotation. On the second rotation, Alabama posted a 49.225 on the uneven bars, its lowest score since Jan. 30.

Heading to the balance beam, Duckworth said it was imperative that her team compete with confidence on the apparatus, and while the scores weren’t as high as they could have been, she said the team accomplished this goal.

“When we went into balance beam, we needed to have a great performance,” Duckworth said. “We needed to have the confidence that we know we should have and do the job and they did that, and that’s a huge part of the building blocks that will take us moving forward.”

Entering the final rotation on the floor exercise, the team’s top-ranked rotation, the Crimson Tide trailed 148.150-147.825. Despite a stroke of creativity by Beers to raise her score after missing a tumbling pass, Alabama fell just short of keeping its home streak alive. On the night, Beers came in third in the all-around, shy of her usual performance.

“Lauren has been a rock all year, and on every single night,” Clark said. “You’re going to have those nights where the rest of us have to have her back instead of her having our back, and I think that’s just what happened tonight. We all had her back and even though she might feel a little down right now, I think she’s going to realize that it’s okay to have an off night and we still love her and still trust her and she’s going to do a great job next time.”

This trust is one of the most important parts of this Crimson Tide team, Duckworth said, and despite the broken streak, the loss will help her team to perform better in the future.

“I think this team has a lot of faith in one another,” Duckworth said. “I believe that because of the faith, the greatest victories we have are on the other side of that faith. I’m excited to see what we do with this learning experience tonight because we are a better team and we can be better, and everyone better be ready for us.”