BATON ROUGE, La. — Forget the first rotation. Alabama and LSU gymnastics posted the same 49.15 to open Friday night’s meet in the Maravich Center. A tie. The two then switched events, and things changed.

Routine after routine, the Tigers put up scores of 9.9 or better on the uneven bars and knocked out a nation-high 49.625 event score. The Crimson Tide didn’t do the same on the vault, posting a 49.025. A gap formed, quickly grew and remained the rest of the meet.

Alabama lost, 197.45 to 196.725.

“We came out here with two things in mind: two have incredible team spirit and to have composure,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said. “We knew it was going to be a very loud, exciting and motivated fan audience.”

That it was.

There were 13,729 people in attendance, a new record for LSU.

“I’m very proud of how we really stayed in check with our energy,” Duckworth said. “We didn’t let ourselves get too high. We didn’t let ourselves get too low. We kind of stayed where we needed to.”

Just not on the scoreboard.

Going into the third rotation, Alabama trailed by 0.6 and had yet to have a gymnast score higher than a 9.875. The floor exercise fixed the latter problem, specifically the last routine, but not the first.

Alabama senior Kiana Winston anchored the Crimson Tide on floor with a season-high 9.925. It was the second-highest floor score of the night. Her performance finalized UA’s 49.2 for the event, which is another high this year.

Meanwhile, LSU chilled out on the balance beam, but not by much. It too, had a 49.2 for its third-rotation event. So, Alabama was still down by 0.6.

Duckworth rallied the troops before Alabama’s last event for a quick motivational speech.

“We have a job to do,” she told the team. “It is to represent the University of Alabama with grace, integrity, respect and all those wonderful things. So go over there and give all you’ve got on balance beam.”

She thinks they did just that.

The standout moments on beam were obvious.

Freshman Alonza Klopfer made a last-minute career debut. She wasn’t originally listed in the beam lineup, but that changed right before Alabama headed to the apparatus. Klopfer replaced sophomore Wynter Childers, who was slated to go all-around but got a cramp during her floor routine that wouldn’t go away. Klopfer got a 9.7 that was ultimately dropped, but she got her first taste of live competition without any major hiccups.

Senior Nickie Guerrero closed out the Crimson Tide’s night with a season-high 9.95 on beam.

Alabama finished with a 49.35 beam score.

“Overall, there were a lot of great performances,” Duckworth said. “But I know we can do better. I know we have it in us.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Alabama had a new best on floor and tied its previous season high on vault and beam.

The only score that was lower was bars – a 49.15 – but it wasn’t worse than any previous mark.

“As one of my friends said: You have the clothes in the closet,” Duckworth said. “Just got to get them out of there.”

 

ALABAMA SCORES

Vault

Maddie Desch, 9.775

Abby Armbrecht, 9.825

Wynter Childers, 9.8

Shea Mahoney, 9.825

Kylie Dickson, 9.7

Nickie Guerrero, 9.8

Uneven bars

Wynter Childers, 9.85

Ari Guerra, 9.8

Jennie Loeb, 9.1

Kylie Dickson, 9.75

Kiana Winston, 9.875

Mackenzie Brannan, 9.875

Balance beam

Peyton Ernst, 9.875

Maddie Desch, 9.825

Abby Armbrecht, 9.825

Alonza Klopfer, 9.7

Kiana Winston, 9.875

Nickie Guerrero, 9.95

Floor exercise

Wynter Childers, 9.625

Shea Mahoney, 9.825

Maddie Desch, 9.7

Abby Armbrecht, 9.875

Nickie Guerrero, 9.875

Kiana Winston, 9.925

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