Up in the Air: Gymnastics fans have a lot to look forward to

Tied at the top of the Southeastern Conference with intimidating matchups still in store, Alabama gymnastics is set for a memorable season.

A new year, a new team. What better way to get your 2021 off to a good start than to watch Alabama gymnastics dominate the competition?

No. 10 Alabama gymnastics is only two meets into its eight-meet conference schedule. The Crimson Tide came out on top of its first two meets against the Kentucky Wildcats and Missouri Tigers, which has landed the program in a three-way tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The goal for the team is to win the SEC championship in head coach Dana Duckworth’s first season. 

Intense Matchups in Coleman Coliseum: Despite the limited attendance due to COVID-19, homefield advantage still remains. Luckily for Alabama gymnastics, two of the three home meets remaining will come against Louisiana State University Tigers and the Florida Gators, the two teams tied for the top spot in the conference with the Crimson Tide. The remaining team to come to Tuscaloosa this season will be in-state rival, the Auburn Tigers.

Diverse Lineups: In a sport that takes a tremendous toll on the body, it’s important to have deep lineups in case of an injury. Thus far, Alabama has showcased an array of faces on each event. On three of the four event lineups, except vault, Alabama has had seven players make a lineup. Sophomore Makarri Doggette has only competed on uneven bars and balance beam, but she has the ability to also make the vault and floor lineup, just as she did in her freshman campaign. Junior Emily Gaskins has the potential to be the eighth person to make the bars lineup, as she was a staple in the lineup back in 2019 before suffering an injury. 

Triumphant Returns, Hometown Favorites: During the second half of the 2020 season, Alabama gymnastics was without junior Griffin James after she tore her Achilles tendon on a floor exercise against Arkansas. James dedicated her extended offseason to pushing herself to compete by the start of the 2021 season. And she did just that. James took the floor in the season opener against Kentucky and scored a career-high 9.90. She failed to salute the judges after her routine, and her score was later deducted by .10 points. The floor lineup features a Tuscaloosa native, junior Sania Mitchell. Mitchell has scored nothing lower than a 9.80 and was described as the “hardest worker” by senior teammate Alonza Klopfer. 

Continuing the Legacy: Like many other sports at the University, gymnastics is held to the same football standard, championship or bust. The team is off to a great start, but there is a long road ahead. Battling through adversity is what the Crimson Tide does best, so this season will be exactly what they expected.