No. 9 Alabama gymnastics drops meet to rival No. 8 Auburn despite late push


CW / Davida Franklin

Freshman Lilly Hudson does a split leap on the balance beam against Kentucky on Jan. 21, 2021

Robert Cortez | @robertcortez27, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 9 Alabama gymnastics (1-3; 1-2 SEC) fell in a road meet to in-state rival No. 8 Auburn ( 4-0; 2-0 SEC), despite a late push on the balance beam. The Tigers toppled the Crimson Tide 197.525-197.125. This marked Auburn’s second-best team score in program history. 

Alabama is now 0-2 in its last two meets against Auburn at Auburn arena. 

Alabama scored a 49.650 on the balance beam — the second best score in the nation after Florida — with a trio of 9.925’s and a season-high of 9.975 from junior Luisa Blanco. Blanco’s score tied her for a share of the event title with Auburn freshman Suni Lee. 

No score lower than 9.90 was counted for the Crimson Tide. 

However, Alabama’s stellar performance on the four-inch-wide apparatus wasn’t good enough to overcome the half of a point deficit it suffered heading into the last rotation. This was due to a slow start in the first half of the meet on the vault and the uneven bars. 

“We wanted to come in and handle the chaos, but I felt like we held back on the first two rotations,” Alabama head coach Dana Duckworth said.

The Crimson Tide opened up its night on the uneven bars, where it ranks No. 4 in the country. Unfortunately, for Alabama, its past success didn’t carry over into the Auburn Arena as they scored a season-low 49.125 on the uneven bars. A pair of 9.775’s and a 9.80 was counted for Alabama. 

Blanco was the bright spot in the rotation, scoring a 9.925. She tied with Auburn’s Lee and senior Derrian Gobourne for the event title. 

A sluggish first rotation carried over into Alabama’s second rotation on the vault. The Crimson Tide posted its second-lowest score on the event this season, a 49.025. Senior Shallon Olsen was the only Crimson Tide gymnast to score above 9.825. Olsen’s 9.90 marked a season-high, earning her the event title. 

Despite its low-scoring performance on the vault, Duckworth found light in the rotation as all six gymnasts in the lineup competed a 10.0 start value vault. 

In last week’s meet against Kentucky, all eyes inside Coleman Coliseum were on junior Makarri Doggette because of her strong performances on the vault and the uneven bars. Against the Wildcats, she posted a score of 9.950 on the uneven bars. Doggette didn’t have the same success on that apparatus against the Tigers as she did with the Wildcats. The Ohio native’s feet hit the floor on her uneven bar performance, resulting in a score of 9.425. 

Doggette posted a slightly lower score on her vault on Friday. After scoring a 9.925 against Kentucky, Doggette scored a 9.825 on the vault because she was short of rotation on the landing and took a step.

Lee competed in the all-around for the first time this season and she put on a show for her home crowd. Lee posted an all-around score of 39.700, which is the second-highest all-around score this season. Lee’s all-around score is behind her Olympian teammate and Oregon State freshman, Jade Carey, who has a 39.800. 

Alabama returns home next Friday, Feb. 4, for a tri-meet against North Carolina and Western Michigan. First vault is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on the SEC Network.