BIRMINGHAM — Finally.
The No. 9 Alabama gymnastics team cracked 197 to defeat No. 13 Auburn for the second week in a row.
The Crimson Tide’s 197.1 easily topped the Tigers’ 196.775 Saturday night at The BJCC’s Legacy Arena in Birmingham for the in-state rivals’ fifth-annual Elevate the Stage meet. The closest Alabama had come before to a 197 was its 196.9 more than seven weeks ago.
“It’s a huge win for many reasons other than the W, really,” said Dana Duckworth, who in her fifth season just got her 100th win as Alabama’s head coach. “It’s the confidence, it’s the belief, and it’s knowing we can that when everything is on the line.”
The outcome of the meet may not have come down to the Crimson Tide’s final competitor — Alabama held a lead over Auburn throughout all four rotations — but the hopes of a 197 did.
Ariana Guerra needed a 9.825 on the floor exercise to push Alabama over that hump. But her ankle had been bothering her all day. She was going after a fall, too. Abby Armbrecht (9.325) had an uncharacteristic mishap during her routine, but it was her first time throwing a double layout on podium equipment.
Nonetheless, Guerra scored a 9.925 that capped off UA’s 49.45 on the event.
“I knew the second I hit that routine,” Guerra said. “I hit my double layout, I hit my middle pass, and then I hit my last pass. I was like, ‘That’s it. That’s what we needed.’ And I knew people before me set me up.”
The momentum had been building.
Rewinding to the beginning of the meet, the Crimson Tide started with a 49.225 on vault led by Armbrecht’s 9.875 that tied her career high. From there, Alabama went to the uneven bars and put up a 49.15. Wynter Childers’ 9.875, which also matched her career best, was the highlight.
Neither event was Alabama’s best performance of the season, but they also weren’t its worst. Not even close.
“It’s just building time and this point,” Guerra said. “Still not where we want to be. There were still miss landings on the first two events.”
Balance beam, though, came together this time around. Even though Emily Gaskins (9.325) came off the apparatus during her routine, Alabama was able to drop that mark and knock out a season-high 49.275. Shallon Olsen stood out with a career-high 9.925.
“It’s like something you know they’ve been capable of for so long,” Duckworth said. “They were able to just break through that barrier.”
They fully broke through on floor.
Guerra’s score was the highest from the Crimson Tide, but there were also two 9.9s from Olsen and Shea Mahoney that helped.
So, perspective: Alabama scored just one event season high Saturday. Last week, it managed to pump out three. The difference between the two performances, however, is the Crimson Tide didn’t fall apart on a single event.
“We got the 197,” Guerra said. “But we’re not done.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.
Shea Mahoney, 9.85
Abby Armbrecht, 9.875
Emily Gaskins, 9.7
Shallon Olsen, 9.875
Lexi Graber, 9.7
Ariana Guerra, 9.925
Kylie Dickson, 9.8
Lexi Graber, 9.8
Wynter Childers, 9.875
Ariana Guerra, 9.85
Shea Mahoney, 9.8
Emily Gaskins, 9.825
Alonza Klopfer, 9.85
Shallon Olsen, 9.925
Wynter Childers, 9.9
Abby Armbrecht, 9.725
Emily Gaskins, 9.225
Lexi Graber, 9.875
Maddie Desch, 9.85
Shallon Olsen, 9.9
Shea Mahoney, 9.9
Emily Gaskins, 9.875
Abby Armbrecht, 9.275
Ariana Guerra, 9.925