Alabama Gymnastics Dominated Seattle Regionals
The Alabama Crimson Tide gymnastics team took care of business on Thursday afternoon in the NCAA Regional meet in Seattle. The Tide utilized a strong start on the floor exercise and kept the momentum going to secure victory.
ESPN had technical difficulties for the first 10 minutes of the meet so viewers weren't able to watch the first four floor routines; however the first floor routine that was on TV was a stunning 9.950 floor exercise performed by freshman Lilly Hudson.
With Luisa Blanco only performing on the uneven bars, Griffin James had the opportunity to compete on floor and made the most of it. She scored a solid 9.875 following Shallon Olsen's lead-off 9.850. Super-senior Lexi Graber anchored the floor lineup with a 9.950. After the first rotation, Alabama led by .225.
The vault lineup started steady with Emily Gaskins stepping in for Blanco performing a clean Yurchenko-full which is a 9.950 start value vault. She led the Tide off with a 9.825. Olsen stuck her double-twisting Yurchenko and earned her career best vault score of 9.950. Graber continued the momentum with a solid 9.900 Yurchenko one-and-a-half. The Crimson Tide extended their lead to .375 and ended the second rotation with an overall score of 98.900.
The other three teams were separated by less than two-tenths of a point. Washington was in second place after two rotations with a 98.525 followed by Michigan State's 98.425 and BYU's 98.325.
Mati Waligora kicked the third rotation off with a phenomenal bar routine that tied her career-best score of 9.950. The third-ranked Alabama bar team did not disappoint as the entire lineup scored a 9.900+. Five scores of 9.900 and one 9.950 meant the Tide dropped a 9.900. Makarri Doggette did have a slight limp after landing her bar dismount. Alabama fans hope it isn't anything serious because she's a consistent bar worker for the Tide.
Going into the final rotation on the balance beam, Alabama added more cushion to its lead as Washington trailed the Crimson Tide by .425 of a point. Alabama maintained first place with an overall score of 148.450 followed by Washington's 147.875, MSU's 147.775, and BYU's 147.550.
Ella Burgess led off the beam lineup with a strong 9.900. Olsen kept the ball rolling and scored a tying career-best score of 9.950. Shania Adams returned to the beam lineup and scored a 9.900 after Graber had a significant balance check and scored a 9.825.
Questions about how this team would perform without Blanco in the all-around were answered in Thursday's meet. The team rose to the challenge and the gymnasts who filled in for her on floor, vault and beam did well. Adams and Griffin stepped up to the plate and did their job to help the Tide move into the Regional Finals on Saturday.
Alabama will find out the other two teams they will face along with MSU Thursday night when No. 4 Utah, No. 11 Oregon State, Illinois and Stanford compete in session ll. At the other Regionals around the country, fellow SEC opponents Auburn, Kentucky and Missouri all move into their respective Regional Finals.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon was Iowa placing second ahead of LSU after trailing the Tigers heading into the final rotation. LSU had a fall on beam which allowed the Hawkeyes to clinch second place and compete in the Finals Saturday.
The Seattle Regional Final will start at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. Follow @julietbrown_tv to stay up to date on all Alabama gymnastics updates.