Historic Night for Alabama Gymnastics on Senior Night
The seniors had the night of their lives with multiple gymnasts scoring a career best or tying a career/season high. Alabama tied their second highest overall score of 198.075 Friday night against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The last time Alabama scored an overall score of 198.00 or better was against Stanford in 2014 where the Tide set a program record of 198.250.
Alabama head coach Dana Duckworth wants her team to "start strong, stay strong, and finish strong" every meet. The Crimson Tide gymnastics team certainly finished strong. The floor rotation featured four senior gymnasts and all four either tied or beat their season best floor scores.
Shallon Olsen lead the team off on floor scoring a career-high 9.925 which brought energy to Coleman Coliseum that continued the rest of the meet. Tuscaloosa native, Sania Mitchell, left it all on the floor with a sassy floor exercise. Mitchell said she didn't expect to score a 9.950 on that floor routine.
"I was so happy when the score came up, but after I was just through my head what I could've done better," Mitchell said.
Emily Gaskins performed her last "Sweet Home Alabama" floor routine in Coleman Coliseum, and she did not disappoint. Gaskins scored a season-high 9.900. The fans were on their feet cheering after her routine ended.
Luisa Blanco clinched the win for the Tide when she scored a 9.950. Super-senior Lexi Graber had no clue that Blanco's score won the meet. She went into her routine focused on performing to the best of her ability. In her last time anchoring the floor exercise, the Florida native tied her career-high 9.975 on the floor. Graber said that the other gymnasts set her up for a big performance.
"I was just being free out there," Graber said.
Senior Griffin James hasn't had the opportunity to perform in competition this year, but she was able to do her final floor routine in Coleman Coliseum as an exhibition. She did not disappoint as she performed her best routine of her career. It scored a 9.950, but because it was an exhibition routine, it didn't count towards the team score.
James suffered a season-ending injury during her floor routine in 2020, ironically against the Razorbacks. She's seen limited action since her injury competing in six meets last year and has only done exhibition routines this year. She said she couldn't ask for a better way to end her Coleman career.
"There was nothing to lose, so I just went out there free and competed with a huge smile on my face," James said.
The seniors weren't the only ones to post huge scores Friday night. Freshman Jordyn Paradise scored a career-best 9.950 on vault, freshman Lilly Hudson scored a career high 9.925 on the uneven bars, and junior Luisa Blanco tied her career-high 9.975 on the uneven bars.
Alabama has a short turn-around period before their next meet. They travel to Huntsville for Elevate the Stage on Sunday. Duckworth said the gymnasts will take ice baths and rest up to prepare for the quad meet with Auburn, Arkansas, and Georgia.
Students are able to attend Sunday's meet by going to bamagymnastics.org and signing up for the bus trip. The $75 cost covers the ticket and the bus ride to Huntsville. Students can buy bus tickets and meet tickets separately as well. Duckworth said there are also scholarships available incase a student isn't able to afford it.
Elevate the Stage begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday and will be streamed on flogymnastics.com.
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