Gymnastics | Season high not enough to stop No. 13 Georgia

Alabama spent their bye week focusing on the details. But it didn’t quite pay off.


CW / Hannah Saad

The Crimson Tide competes against Georgia in 2020.

No. 6 Alabama gymnastics departed Athens, Georgia, with a season-high score of 197. But that wasn’t enough to topple the longtime rival’s high of 197.275. 

“They controlled what they could control, and they never stopped fighting,” head coach Dana Duckworth said. 

Alabama took the early lead after rotation one on the uneven bars, 49.375-49.250, which is the team’s second-best score of the season on the event. The event was capped off with three 9.9 scores from freshman Shania Adams and sophomores Luisa Blanco and Makarri Doggette. 

But the Crimson Tide couldn’t carry over its success from the uneven bars to the vault. The team scored its second-lowest score of the season on the event, 49.150. This game low allowed the No. 13 Bulldogs to gain a .100 lead at the halfway point of the meet. Georgia would build on this meet in the final two events. 

“We started strong on the uneven bars and then after some mistakes on vault and floor, we came back and finished strong on the balance beam,” Duckworth said. 

Before the meet, Duckworth said the team’s goal was to “hit 24-for-24 performances.” But a fall on vault and on floor, both by Adams, led the team astray with a pair of 9.750s and, later, a 9.650. 

Alabama’s 9.650 score came from Doggette on the floor exercise – her first performance of the season.. She has been tending to an injured  ankle, which she had surgery on prior to the start of the season. Despite a sub par score, the return of Doggette to the floor lineup looked to be a huge addition to the floor lineup. She was a staple during her freshman season in 2020. 

Blanco and the return of senior Lexi Graber proved to be bright spots for Alabama. Blanco won the all-around title with a 39.625 score. She scored a 9.850 on vault, a pair of 9.9s on the uneven bars and floor and led the charge on the balance beam with a 9.950. Graber missed the Crimson Tide’s last meet against Kentucky due to a car accident but returned in remarkable fashion against Georgia scoring 9.9s on both vault and beam, as well as earning a leading score of 9.925 on floor exercise. 

“I’m very proud of Lexi for coming back tonight and scoring 9.9-or-better on all three of her routines,” Duckworth said. “I can’t say enough about Luisa’s performance tonight, winning the all-around and balance beam and posting career-best scores throughout.” 

Two events Alabama will need to seek immediate improvement on are vault and the floor exercise. On both events the Crimson Tide has yet to score a 49.300, which is a 9.86 average score per competitor. Alabama has had a competitor fall on the vault in each of the last three meets and two falls this season on the floor exercise. 

“I believe in this team and the way we are building and improving mental fortitude week after week,” Duckworth said.

Alabama will return to Coleman Coliseum next Friday, Feb. 19, to hold its annual “Power of Pink” meet against the No. 2 LSU Tigers. First vault is scheduled for 7:30 CT and will be televised on ESPN2.