Preview | The SEC gymnastics championship is this weekend

Alabama is the No. 3 seed, just behind Florida and LSU.


Robert Cortez, Staff Reporter

No. 8 Alabama gymnastics (6-2) used the past two weeks to focus on perfecting the minuscule details as it heads to Huntsville to compete for the conference championship on Saturday in the Von Braun Center Propst Arena. The Crimson Tide will compete in the night session, as the team is the the No. 3 seed in the conference, and will compete against the last three programs it faced to close out the regular season: No. 1-seed Florida, No. 2-seed LSU and No. 4-seed Arkansas.

“This team is so excited to compete at the SEC Championships,” head coach Dana Duckworth said.

Dana Duckworth was in her inaugural year as Alabama’s head coach when the Tide last won the SEC Championship. Despite competing against two teams that rank top-5 nationally, No. 1 Florida and No. 4 LSU, Alabama still seems to be in title contention. The team has scored a 197 or higher in each of its past four meets and shown the ability to score big, with a season-high of 197.725.

Because the championship is a quad meet and Alabama is not a top-2 team, the Crimson Tide will open on the floor exercise, one of the team’s weaker events. The Crimson Tide will move onto the vault, uneven bars and close the meet out on its best event, the balance beam.


Alabama: No. 16 nationally / Season-high: 49:550 / National qualifying score (NQS): 49.350

It is crucial that Alabama scores higher than its season average. Not being able to do so would severely narrow its chances of winning the meet.

The key competitors on the event are Emily Gaskins, Sania Mitchell and Shania Adams. All three have shown the ability to score 9.875 or higher on the event, but each has also suffered a fall. If these three can hit their routines and senior Lexi Graber and sophomore Luisa Blanco score high—as they have done all season—Alabama could get off to an enviable start.

Florida: No. 1 nationally / Season-high: 49.625 / NQS: 49.544
LSU: No. 3 nationally / Season-high: 49.650 / NQS: 49.481
Arkansas: No. 2 nationally / Season-high: 49.535 / NQS: 49.506


Alabama: No. 8 nationally / Season-high: 49.450 / NQS: 49.288

As the Crimson Tide is not favored to win, there is no reason for it not to go big in its vault routines and have built-in deductions. In its meet against LSU where it scored its season-high on the event, the lineup was composed of six 10.0 start value vaults.

Florida: No. 4 nationally / Season-high: 49.550 / NQS: 49.488
LSU: No. 3 nationally / Season-high: 49.625 / NQS:49.525
Arkansas: No. 11 nationally / Season-high: 49.350 / NQS: 49.269


Alabama: No. 9 nationally / Season-high: 49.425 / NQS: 49.363

The two competitors that are key to Alabama’s lineup on the event are Graber and sophomore Makarri Doggette. Graber has fallen off the apparatus twice this season, but she has the ability to score big. Her career best is a 9.925. Doggette has been in the anchor spot of this event all season long. As an anchor, Doggette must score at least a 9.900, as is expected from that position.

Florida: No. 2 nationally / Season-high: 49.600 / NQS: 49.475
LSU: No. 5 nationally / Season-high: 49.550 / NQS: 49.459
Arkansas: No. 7 nationally / Season-high: 49.425 / NQS: 49.375


Alabama: No. 6 nationally / Season-high: 49.550 / NQS: 49.431

The balance beam is a make or break event for most, and the Crimson Tide has been solid on the apparatus in its past four meets, scoring nothing lower than a 49.325. Therefore, the key to having success on the four-inch wide piece of wood is to not put too much pressure on themselves. If the gymnasts relax into their usual routines, they could very well score the team’s fifth straight score of 49.325 or better on the event.

Florida: No. 1 nationally / Season-high: 49.700 / NQS: 49.656
LSU: No. 5 nationally / Season-high: 49.550 / NQS: 49.444
Arkansas: No. 11 nationally / Season-high: 49.400 / NQS: 49.338

First vault is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday and will be televised on the SEC Network.