No. 8 Alabama gymnastics prepares for road test against LSU 

Alabama+gymnasts+celebrate+during+a+tri-meet+against+Western+Michigan+and+North+Carolina+of+Feb.+4%2C+2022.+

CW / Davida Franklin

Alabama gymnasts celebrate during a tri-meet against Western Michigan and North Carolina of Feb. 4, 2022.

Robert Cortez | @robertcortez27, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 8 Alabama gymnastics has struggled on the road this season with an 0-4 record. This Friday, the Crimson Tide will head to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to take on the No. 5 LSU Tigers, marking their third road meet of the season against a top-five opponent after No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Oklahoma.

Alabama will compete in one of the more boisterous environments in the country, the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The team sold a program record of 7,000 season tickets this year. At the Tigers’ lone home conference meet of the season against No. 7 Auburn, 13,569 people attended — the second-largest crowd in program history. 

Head coach Dana Duckworth said that  to succeed in this type of environment, “Team 48” must be locked in and expect a wild atmosphere. 

“‘Focus’ is the appropriate word,” Duckworth said. “When you know you’re going to be in a really loud environment, you have to expect the expected.”

This focus must be obtained while the team competes on the balance beam, its final event of the night, as LSU will be on the floor exercise. The Tigers have shown the ability to score big on the floor with a 49.775 season high and are ranked eighth nationally in the event. This may lead to a loud stadium environment while Alabama gymnasts are performing their beam routines. 

In this week’s practice, Duckworth and the coaching staff will try to emulate this type of environment to prepare the gymnasts.  

“We will practice in our interest squads with music blasting and crowd cheering to try to simulate as much as we possibly can,” Duckworth said. “This team has shown a great deal of beam mental toughness and I want to see them continue to use every opportunity like this to be that much more prepared for the postseason.” 

In 2020, the Crimson Tide toppled the Tigers in the PMAC for the first time since 2013. Seven current Alabama gymnasts made contributions to that win.

Freshman Jordyn Paradise said leaving the PMAC with a win will help the freshman and sophomore classes. 

“Having a lot of people who are experienced can help you and guide you throughout the meet and give you a heads-up, in a way, of what to expect,” Paradise said. 

Because Alabama is the visiting team, they will open on the uneven bars. The Crimson Tide are ranked sixth nationally and have a 49.550 average in the uneven bars. It’s their second-best event. 

Graduate student Lexi Graber said opening the meet on one of the team’s stronger events helps “set the tone.”

“I think it’s important even at home just to get that first event to start off strong,” Graber said. “It’s really a tone-setter for the rest of the meet.

Not only will Alabama have to stay focused to give itself a chance to win its second straight meet at LSU, but it will have to score higher than its season averages. LSU is ranked higher on all four events than Alabama. 

Event Rankings:

Vault:

  • LSU
    • No. 3 nationally
    • Season average: 49.350
    • Season high: 49.475.
  • Alabama
    • No. 11 nationally
    • Season average: 49.179
    • Season high: 49.500.

Uneven bars:

  • LSU
    • No. 3 nationally
    • Season average: 49.413
    • Season high: 49.500
  • Alabama
    • No. 6 nationally
    • Season average: 49.375
    • Season high: 49.550

Balance beam:

  • LSU
    • No. 3 nationally
    • Season average: 49.313
    • Season high: 49.475
  • Alabama
    • No. 4 nationally
    • Season average: 49.308
    • Season high: 49.650

Floor exercise:

  • LSU
    • No. 8 nationally
    • Season average: 49.325
    • Season high: 49.775
  • Alabama
    • No. 12 nationally
    • Season average: 49.292,
    • Season high: 49.625

First vault between Alabama and LSU is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. CT. The meet will be televised on ESPNU.