Recap | How gymnastics clinched its 10th SEC title

The meet saw Alabama reach its highest score of the season.

Robert Cortez, Staff Reporter

Nate Oats called the University a “championship school.” On Saturday, Alabama gymnasts proved his point. The Crimson Tide used a season-high score of 197.875 to clinch the program’s 10th conference title, the first since head coach Dana Duckworth’s inaugural season in 2015, and became the University’s third sport of the 2020-21 school year to do so.

“This is a ‘Championship School,’ and we were so proud to do this for our school, our fans and the Crimson Tide,” Duckworth said. 

The meet came down to the final routine, so the pressure was on for sophomore Luisa Blanco, who was in the anchor spot on the balance beam. Blanco needed a 9.875 to clinch the title. The Texas native scored a 9.950 on the rotation, which clinched not only the team title, but also the all-around title with a score of 39.800. Blanco also claimed three event titles: vault, uneven bars and balance beam. 

“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” Blanco said. 

Floor Exercise:

Alabama opened up the meet on its lowest-ranked event, but owned the floor exercise this time around with its second-highest score on the apparatus this season, a 49.450. Blanco and senior Lexi Graber rounded off the apparatus with a pair of 9.950s. The rotation did not count a score lower than a 9.825. The Crimson Tide obtained a .100 advantage over the No. 1 Florida Gators and No. 3 LSU Tigers after its first rotation. 


Four scores of 9.900 or better resulted in a season-high score on the event, 49.550, which ties the highest score on any apparatus this season. Alabama’s vault performance extended its lead over LSU to .350 and made for the team’s highest score of the season after two rotations, 99.000. Florida had to count a broken routine on the uneven bars, which put the meet solely between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.

Uneven Bars:

Alabama’s started the second half of the meet slowly. Two scores in the 9.700 range were posted within the first three routines, but three straight 9.950s from Blanco, sophomore Makarri Doggette and freshman Shania Adams allowed for a 49.425 score on the event. Blanco, Doggette and Adams were all named co-event champions. However, despite tying its season high, LSU narrowed the lead to .275 as it tallied a 49.500 on floor exercise, which included a perfect-10 from Kiya Johnson. 

Balance Beam:

Championships are won and lost on the balance beam, and LSU put added pressure on Alabama when it scored a 49.625 on its last apparatus, the vault. But the Crimson Tide stayed within its “Bama Bubble” and proved to be steady on the apparatus, avoiding a score lower than 9.850 and finishing with an event score of 49.450. Graber tied Blanco’s title-clinching 9.950, making the pair co-balance beam event champions. 

“I’m really proud of where we are now, and we’re not done,” Duckworth said.