Sandwiched between two standout rotations was a series of unfortunate events that made the University of Alabama gymnastics team’s final regular season meet a lot closer than it should have been.
Regardless, No. 6 Alabama defeated No. 30 Iowa State, 197.1 to 196.6, on Friday.
“Although there were periods in there that were very atypical of Alabama gymnastics with where we are right now, you have to look at where did we start and where did we finish,” UA coach Dana Duckworth said.
The Crimson Tide started off on the vault with a season-high 49.5. Before it finished with a season-high 49.65 on the floor exercise, there was chaos. UA had a 49.025 on the uneven bars, its second-lowest event mark of the season, then a 48.925 on the balance beam, a new low.
On vault, four Alabama gymnasts either set or tied a career-high. Juniors Kiana Winston and Nickie Guerrero matched their priors of 9.9 and 9.95, respectively. Sophomore Abby Armbrecht did the same with a 9.875.
In the anchor spot, freshman Maddie Desch set a new best 9.9 that showcased a Yurchenko 1 ½ she has been working on.
“It’s really exciting, but I also am so grateful that I have a team that can really back me up so I got the opportunity to try it,” Desch said. “Just to see all those girls in front of me, and do not just good but great, it gave me more comfort in myself and the team.”
There was momentum, but it stalled out.
Senior Aja Sims had a stale leadoff performance on bars. She received a 9.275. That score was dropped, but the Crimson Tide had to count freshman Wynter Childers’ 9.3.
“After coming off of the excitement, we really did just try to be ourselves,” Sims said. “It was just human error.”
The stall continued on beam with a fall from Armbrecht and senior Katie Bailey, who was making her season-debut on the apparatus. Armbrecht’s 9.125 was thrown out. Bailey’s 9.3 remained.
Going into the final rotation, Alabama trailed for the first time by 0.15.
“If you were watching the score, you easily could have just had a snowball effect,” Duckworth said.
So, she brought the team together, acknowledged the fact they had dug themselves a hole but reminded them that floor is their best event, which it is.
Just like vault, floor featured four new or tied career-highs. Guerrero (9.9), Desch (9.95) and Bailey (9.925) all set fresh individual standards. Sims’ 9.975 equaled a mark from earlier this season.
As the last performer of the night, Sims’ score was the highest of any gymnast. It was also her final time competing in Coleman Coliseum.
“It was really bittersweet,” Sims said. “But I really just wanted to get it all out and have the most fun I could.”
Four individual scores of 10 were flashed. There were the ones from Guerrero on vault and Sims on floor. The others came out of Winston’s beam and Desch’s floor.
Ultimately, the positives outweighed the negatives.
“When you think about those moments,” Duckworth said, “those are the moments that took my breath away.”
Wynter Childers; 9.825
Abby Armbrecht; 9.875
Kiana Winston; 9.9
Katie Bailey; 9.875
Nickie Guerrero; 9.95
Maddie Desch; 9.9
Aja Sims; 9.275
Shea Mahoney; 9.9
Wynter Childers; 9.575
Amanda Jetter; 9.875
Katie Bailey; 9.9
Mackenzie Brannan; 9.775
Abby Armbrecht; 9.125
Aja Sims; 9.9
Katie Bailey; 9.3
Maddie Desch; 9.825
Kiana Winston; 9.975
Nickie Guerrero; 9.925
Ari Guerra; 9.85
Nickie Guerrero; 9.9
Amanda Jetter; 9.9
Maddie Desch; 9.95
Katie Bailey; 9.925
Aja Sims; 9.975