Recap | Gymnastics remains in title contention

On the road in Arkansas, Alabama was at peak performance.


Hannah Saad | @hannah_saad21

Senior Lexi Graber executes her balance beam routine at a 2020 meet with the Georgia Bulldogs.

Robert Cortez, Staff Reporter

No. 7 Alabama gymnastics (6-1) used a season-high road score to down the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks (2-5), 197.325-197.000, on Friday night to remain in contention for a conference regular season title. The postseason is right around the corner—Alabama has one meet left in the regular season and head coach Dana Duckworth stated that its meet in Fayetteville, Ark. was a great way to prepare for it.

“I told them [the student gymnasts] right at the end that what we did was the best preparation for the postseason,” Duckworth said. 

As the road team, Alabama ended the meet on the balance beam and had no margin for error. Arkansas was only ahead .35 going into the last rotation. The Crimson Tide accepted the challenge and matched last week’s floor exercise score of 49.550, then went for a season high on the balance beam to close out the meet. The rotation consisted of a pair of 9.875s, 9.925s and a career-tying best of 9.950 from senior Lexi Graber.

“I’m extremely happy with how our beam rotation closed out the meet,” Duckworth said. “I can’t say enough about the way they handled the pressure of having Arkansas on our heels.”

Last week’s Southeastern Conference gymnasts of the Week, sophomore Luisa Blanco, led the Crimson Tide again as she won her second-straight all around title, 39.550, and an event title on vault, 9.90. Blanco’s most important routine of the night came on the balance beam as she had to follow a fall from fellow sophomore Makarri Doggette and stay on the apparatus to secure the win, which she did successfully, scoring a 9.925. Blanco also scored a 9.850 on vault and a 9.875 on floor exercise. 

Alabama’s highest ranked event nationally is on the uneven bars. At sixth in the country, the team topped its season-average, 49.254, with a 49.325. This marked the Crimson Tide’s fourth straight score on the event of 49.300 or higher. The event was ledoff and anchored with 9.9s from sophomores Mati Waligora and Doggette. This was Waligora’s first 9.9 on the event and Doggette’s fifth 9.9 or higher of the season. 

The one event Alabama did not score a 49.300 or higher on was the vault. On that apparatus, the team landed a 49.125, just below the team’s season average. Now in five of its seven meets, Alabama has scored under 49.200 in the event.

Last week, all of Alabama’s vaulters had a 10.0 start value and scored a season-high on the apparatus with a 49.450. However, the Crimson Tide headed into the rotation with a disadvantage from last week as only four of the six competed a 10.0 start vault routine. In the rotation, Alabama had to count a pair of 9.775s from Graber and freshman Shania Adams. 

Alabama will close out its regular season on March 5 against the top-ranked Florida Gators in Coleman Coliseum to decide the regular season champion. First vault is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and a channel to have the game has yet to be announced.