Alabama Gymnastics tumbles to season-best performance


CW / Davida Franklin

Junior Makarri Doggette shared a hug with a teammate during Kentucky meet on Jan. 21, 2022.

Robert Cortez | @robertcortez27, Assistant Sports Editor

Prior to No. 9 Alabama gymnastics tri-meet Friday night, junior Mati Waligora said ‘Team 48’ has put up big scores on each apparatus, but had yet to turn in a complete performance. 

That changed Friday night against No. 17 Western Michigan and No. 25 North Carolina. The Crimson Tide scored a season-high of 197.875 en route to its second win of the season. 

“We put everything that we’ve been practicing onto the competition floor, and it’s always great to see it translate,” junior Luisa Blanco said. 

Last week in Auburn, Alabama head coach Dana Duckworth felt her team “held back” in the first half. Alabama scored a season-low on the uneven bars, 49.125, and its second-lowest event score on the vault, 49.025. 

Seven days later and the Crimson Tide’s performances on the vault and uneven bars were nothing short of elite. They recorded a season-high of 49.500 on the vault and a season second-best of 49.475 on the uneven bars. 

“When you have kind of an ‘off week’ it fuels your fire, even more, to come back stronger the next week,” Blanco said. “It only goes to show our potential.”

The vault lineup competed six 10.0 start value vaults for the second-straight meet — and the second time in program history. This time around, the Crimson Tide fared significantly better. 

Juniors Mati Waligora and Luisa Blanco both scored a season-high 9.90. Sophomore Shania Adams led the lineup with a season-high score of 9.950 and captured the event title in the meet. 

Duckworth said senior Shallon Olsen gave the vault lineup a “spark,” which carried on throughout the meet. 

“I think Shallon Olsen may have done the best collegiate vault I’ve seen her do in Coleman Coliseum,” Duckworth said.  

The uneven bars have been one of Alabama’s stronger events this season, ranked seventh nationally heading into Friday’s meet. Season highs from Blanco and Adams propelled Alabama to their second-best event score of the season, 49.475. 

Freshman Lilly Hudson was “proud” of the uneven bars lineup. They didn’t let an error from the opening routine have a domino effect. 

“If there is a mistake, it’s just about getting back up and continuing the energy the whole way through,” Hudson said. “I think that they did a really good job of that tonight, so I’m super proud of them.”

Like the uneven bars, Alabama was able to put together its second-best season performance on the balance beam, 49.475, and the floor exercise, 49.425. In these two events, five performances scored at least 9.90 or better. 

Blanco won the event title on the balance beam with a score of 9.950. Senior Lexi Graber, junior Makarri Doggette and Hudson tied for the event title on floor exercise, all posting a score of 9.90. 

During the floor rotation, Duckworth and the team gestured their arms to the crowd to stand up and give an ovation after a routine. 

“When you see them land you should be up on your feet,” Duckworth said. “It fires our girls up and brings so much energy inside Coleman Coliseum, which then impacts the outcome.”

Duckworth said ‘Team 48’ has the capability to score a 198. 

I will go back to the attention to detail and the discipline that we are going to have to have in order to gain the momentum to cross that 198,” Duckworth said. 

Alabama will compete in Coleman Coliseum Friday, Feb. 11, in the Power of Pink meet against Georgia. The first vault is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on the SEC Network.