How the Tide Turns: Record-setting beam performance leads to gymnastics win

After a rocky performance against Missouri, Bama gymnastics is back with a vengeance.


Courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Three Alabama gymnasts scored 9.9 or higher on the balance beam.

Any concerns about Alabama gymnastics’ balance beam lineup after last week’s 48.300 score quickly eased after the team’s win against Auburn Friday night.

No .10 Alabama’s focused and intentional attitude was on full display in Coleman Coliseum  on Jan. 22, where the team defeated its in-state rival, No. 18 Auburn, 196.925-195.675. 

“We talked all week that every single routine and every single turn we take needed to be with an intensity,” head coach Dana Duckworth said. 

Alabama set records with a score of 49.425 on the beam – the program’s highest score since the 2019 season. Judges counted three scores of 9.900 or better on the event, with a star performance by sophomore Luisa Blanco, who won the event title with a 9.925 score.

Senior Alonza Klopfer scored a 9.900 on the balance beam and credits her success due to her ability to be consistent and “be present.” Klopfer said that in order for the beam lineup to come back after its rocky performance against Missouri, everyone had to “do their own job, and it would all come together.”

In order to sustain its success on the event, Duckworth stated that certain principles needed to be followed.

“One of the major goals of the event is to stay present and to not get ahead of yourself,” she said. “The butterflies in your stomach mean something good is going to happen if you can learn how to breathe and stay calm.”

Alabama scored a season high of 49.200 on its second event, the uneven bars. For the first time this season, Alabama did witness a fall on the event. A pair of underclassmen, sophomore Makarri Doggette and freshman Cameron Machado, led the Crimson Tide in scoring on the event with 9.875s. 

Traditionally, one of Alabama’s strongest events is floor exercise. However, Alabama’s season high is only 49.250, which came in the season opener against Kentucky. But junior Sania Mitchell was a bright spot on the floor this week, which was a sign of progress.

“I think we have a lot of room for improvement,” Mitchell said. “We have more depth coming and a lot of people working hard.”

Freshman Shania Adams, an Ohio native, continues to be a steady hand in the lineup. She collected her first all-around title, scoring a 49.325. Adams did not score lower than a 9.800 and had a pair of 9.850s on the uneven bars and floor exercise. 

The 2021 season started off uncanny for senior Lexi Graber, who suffered three falls in the first two meets of the season. But she was back in business at the conclusion of the meet against Auburn. Graber scored a 9.900 on vault and 9.875 on balance beam, avenging her fall on the apparatus from last week. 

Dogette, once a familiar face in both the vault and floor exercise lineup, is nursing an offseason injury. Duckworth said Doggette’s ability to compete is a “day-to-day” decision and hasn’t said when she will return on either event. 

Alabama will take its second road trip of the season to compete against the Kentucky Wildcats for the second time on Friday, Jan. 29.