Shea Mahoney can’t wait to start the 2020 Alabama gymnastics season.

After several months of preseason, grinding away in the gym, putting in the extra hours of work, the season opener is finally here.

Be careful what you wish for, though. Alabama has a brutal start to the season, facing No. 13 Auburn on the road on Saturday.

After that it’s a home meet with No. 1 Oklahoma. The next day Alabama takes on Oklahoma again, along with No. 7 Denver and No. 8 Georgia in the Metroplex Challenge.

Still, Mahoney is ready to go.

“This is the most excited and prepared a team has been heading into the season,” Mahoney said. “We’re just ready to get out there and we’re pumped that it’s finally here.

“I’m excited to compete my last season with this group of girls. This is the closest team I’ve ever been on and a team that has been so resilient and has fought for everything so far this preseason. I feel extremely blessed to be able to head into my final season with a group of girls that I know wholeheartedly want success and victory as much as I do.”

Alabama holds a 137-10 record against Auburn and is 127-1 since 1980. The Crimson Tide’s lone loss in that 31-year stretch was in 2016. Alabama won all three 2019 meets against Auburn.

“The Auburn rivalry across all sports at Alabama is so exciting,” Mahoney said. “It’s such an exciting competition unlike any other in college sports. I can’t believe that our first meet of the season is the Iron Bowl of gymnastics. We are ready for it and have been preparing for it all summer.”

Mahoney is coming off an impressive junior season, which saw her earn All-SEC honors. She will compete on the floor exercise, the vault and the uneven bars this season.

“My main goal going into the season is consistency – consistency in my training, consistency in competition and consistency in the way I carry myself and lead the team,” she said. “I just want to be a solid person of consistency in all aspects of life leading into the season.”

She was fairly consistent last season in all three of her events. She was between a 9.7-9.85 on vault, a 9.80-9.975 on bars and 9.725-9.95 on floor. She had one bad score on bars (9.10) and on floor (9.3) but if you take away those two scores her average on vault (9.8), bars (9.84) and floor (9.83) has been relatively consistent.

She’ll need to be consistent right from the start and throughout the season if the Crimson Tide wants to get back to the NCAA Championships, which it missed last season for the first time since 1982.

“Our team always has the consistent goal of wanting to be on the floor on the final night of the national championship with a chance to win,” Mahoney said. “That is what we want every year. We want to look back on this season knowing that we left nothing out there, that everything we did was with a purpose and that everything we did was just done with incredible amounts of integrity.”

Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, edwin.stanton@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2

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