No. 8 Alabama gymnastics drops road meet to No. 5 LSU


CW / Davida Franklin

Junior Luisa Blanco gets a pep talk before her balance beam routine on Feb. 11, 2022.

Robert Cortez | @robertcortez27, Assistant Sports Editor

Road meets have been a thorn in the side for No. 8 Alabama gymnastics this season. 

It was no different on Friday night as the Crimson Tide fell to No. 5 LSU, 198.050-197.600, and will remain winless on the road, 0-4. 

Heading into the meet, LSU claimed a better season average on every event than Alabama. Meaning the Crimson Tide would have to score better than their season averages to give themselves a shot to beat LSU and collect their second straight win at Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

This did not happen, as Alabama failed to meet its season averages on the uneven bars and the floor exercise.

The Crimson Tide scored a 49.300 on the uneven bars and a 49.225 on the floor exercise. 

The Crimson Tide’s season averages for the floor exercise and the uneven bars are 49.292 and 49.375 respectively. 

Even if Alabama had scored its season averages on the uneven bars and floor, it would have still lost to LSU due to the Tigers’ complete performance. 

LSU beat its season average on all four events. This included season-high scores on the vault, 49.500, and the balance beam, 49.600. The Tigers’ beam score included a perfect 10 from Kiya Johnson and marked their fourth-highest score on the apparatus in program history. 

Despite scoring below their season average on the uneven bars and floor exercise, the Crimson Tide were exceptional on the vault and the balance beam. Alabama scored a 49.450 on the vault and a 49.625 on the balance beam, the second-highest scores on both events this season. 

Alabama counted a combined seven scores of 9.90 or better on vault and balance beam. Five of the seven came on the balance beam. 

These two events were highlighted by graduate student Lexi Graber and junior Luisa Blanco, as they were both near perfect. Graber scored a career-high 9.975 on the vault, and Blanco matched that score on the balance beam. 

On the night, Alabama competed eight routines under duress as a fall came earlier in the event rotation. Luckily for the Crimson Tide, all eight routines hit and no fall had to be counted. The balance beam was the only event where a fall didn’t occur. 

A bright spot for “Team 48” in the loss is that this road meet score will replace its 195.875 at No. 3 Oklahoma, which came in the season opener. This will boost the Crimson Tide’s National Qualifying Score. 

NQS determines rankings and will go into effect this week. NQS is made up of a team’s top six scores of the season. Three of the scores in the six need to be from a road meet or a meet competed at a neutral site. However, a team’s highest score of the season is dropped, and the remaining five determine the team’s NQS. 

Alabama returns home next Friday, Feb. 25, to compete against No. 11 Missouri. First vault is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.