Alabama Gymnastics Defeats Auburn and Posts Highest Score of Season
Alabama gymnastics hosted the Auburn Tigers Friday night for its annual Power of Pink meet. The sold-out meet garnered a lot of hype with Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee coming to town and this meet definitely didn't disappoint. The eleventh-ranked Crimson Tide beat the sixth-ranked Tigers 197.850-197.700.
Canadian Olympian Shallon Olsen returned to the lineup and performed her double-twisting yurchenko for the first time this season. She got the stuck landing and was rewarded with a 9.875. Lilly Hudson scored a 9.800 before Makarri Doggette was under rotated on her yurchenko-1.5 and fell. Luisa Blanco came back strong with a 9.950 before Gabby Gladieux and Jordyn Paradise scored 9.775's. Alabama trailed Auburn 49.175-49.400. Suni Lee scored a perfect 10.0 on the uneven bars while Cassie Stevens scored a 9.900 to assist the Tigers in its .225 lead after the first rotation.
The uneven bars rotation didn't go the way the Crimson Tide drew it up, with Paradise falling after over rotating on one of her handstands. Alabama managed to drop her 9.225 and counted Hudson's 9.825, Mati Waligora's 9.800, Cam Machado's 9.925, Dogette's 9.950, and Blanco's 9.825. Alabama's scores on the uneven bars weren't enough to chip away at the Auburn lead and the Tigers led 98.725-98.500 at the halfway point.
Alabama had to have an unbelievable second half of competition if it wanted to have any chance at winning the meet. The Crimson Tide was up for the challenge however, breaking program records on the beam and floor. Alabama's 49.650 on the balance beam tied for second place in program history.
Ella Burgess led off with a 9.925 on beam to get the ball rolling. Rachel Rybicki scored a 9.825 in her collegiate debut in front of Alabama fans. Rybicki's score was actually the score the Tide ended up dropping. Waligora and Gladieux scored a pair of 9.875's before Hudson performed a nearly perfect beam routine. Hudson scored a 9.975 which was a career best. Blanco anchored the beam lineup with a perfect 10. It was the second perfect score of her career and couldn't have came at a better moment. With Blanco's 10, Alabama only trailed by .050 of a point. The score read Auburn 148.200 to Alabama 148.150 heading into the final rotation.
The Crimson Tide blew the roof off of Coleman Coliseum in the final rotation, scoring a record-tying 49.700 in the event. The crowd was roaring for all of the floor routines and the energy was unmatched. Waligora led off with a 9.925. Shania Adams performed a routine worthy of a 9.900. Doggette replaced Olsen in the lineup and scored a 9.800 which is the score Alabama dropped. Gladieux performed the best floor routine of her career and was rewarded with a 9.925. Hudson and Blanco flirted with perfection in the final two routines of the night. Each received 9.975's which was enough to beat Auburn.
Gymnasts and head coach Ashley Johnston all said the sold out crowd played a huge role in getting the victory.
"There is nothing like the energy that the fans bring to Coleman Coliseum and its something that our athletes have never quite experienced it like that before," Johnston said.
"The crowd really carried us throughout the entire thing, like the energy was insane," Hudson said. "We loved it, so to just end that way is a memory I'll have forever."
The Crimson Tide will travel to Fort Worth, TX to compete in the Metroplex challenge on Feb. 11 before traveling to Athens, GA to compete against the Bulldogs on Feb. 17.