Gymnastics advances to Ann Arbor Regional


CW / Hannah Saad

James Ogletree, Staff Writer

Alabama gymnastics will begin its postseason in Michigan at the Ann Arbor Regional on April 5, the NCAA announced Monday.

The 10th-ranked Crimson Tide will compete in the Friday afternoon session alongside No. 7 seed and host Michigan, No. 23 Penn State and No. 26 Ohio State. The top two teams from that session will join the top two teams from the Friday evening session in another quad meet on Saturday.

The top two teams from that Saturday quad meet will advance to the national semifinals two weeks later.

“This is a strong regional, I think this is going to be a competitive regional, and we’ve got to do our job,” said coach Dana Duckworth, a Michigan native. “We’re just going to trust in the fact that we have to show up at regionals and bring our very best.”

On Wednesday afternoon the team gathered at the Frances Smith Gymnastics Practice Facility inside Coleman Coliseum to learn where it would continue its season.

While the gymnasts waited for assistant coach Bill Lorenz to load the stream, Duckworth passed out crimson and white shakers. Freshman Emily Gaskins and sophomore Lexi Graber laughed as they stuck their shakers in the bun of freshman Griffin James’ hair.

They all held their shakers high and cheered as “(10) Alabama” was revealed on the screen. However, some were surprised that the team would be competing in the afternoon session rather than the evening.

“We’re definitely really excited to be in the afternoon session and to be with who we are with,” sophomore Lexi Graber said. “We kind of just figured the better teams they would put first; we didn’t really know how it was going to play out.”

Duckworth had thought each regional’s host would compete in the evening, and since Alabama was the closest seed to Michigan, she figured it would join the Wolverines in the later session.

Senior Angelina Giancroce pointed out, however, that competing earlier on Friday would give their bodies more of a rest before potentially competing on Saturday.

The prospect of competing on back-to-back days also raises the question of how Duckworth would handle the team’s lineups. Could she risk resting some gymnasts on Friday to ensure they’re fresh for the more rigorous competition on Saturday?

“You can have this awesome plan, and then one thing happens like someone gets sick and it all gets jumbled,” Duckworth said. “Whatever we put out there will put us in the very best position to move on to the second day.”