A minor fever was nothing compared to what some of the women in Coleman Coliseum on Friday night have battled in their life. Maddie Desch knew that.
So, although the Alabama sophomore gymnast had been feeling a little under the weather lately, she pushed through and competed in the Crimson Tide’s 14th annual Power of Pink meet.
“Our motto is just: For her,” Desch said. “It just made it so much worth it because I was like I know I don’t feel my best, but doing it for her, I can do it.”
She did it, competed on three events to ultimately earn a season-high 9.95 on the floor exercise.
Alabama did it, scored a season-high 197 to defeat Arkansas’ 196.35.
The Crimson Tide is now 27-0 in pink leotards.
“There’s nothing better than when you look in that arena and see it full of pink,” UA coach Dana Duckworth said. “When we focus on why are we doing what we’re doing, it’s about bringing early detection awareness.”
The Power of Pink and DCH Breast Cancer Fund has raised more than $1.9 million since former Alabama gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson started the initiative in 2004. The first pink meet was in 2005.
Fourteen years later, it’s still going strong.
Instead of introducing the gymnasts before competition, each member of the Crimson Tide escorted at least one breast cancer survivor out onto the circle ‘A.’ Spotlight completely on her. There were 12,469 people in attendance.
“That was surreal,” said senior Nickie Guerrero, who walked out with her mother. “I anticipated being shaky, like I was with my grandma and aunt, but I did get a little emotional. I wasn’t expecting it. She’s a rock, so she teaches me how to be a rock.”
Well, rocks can move. The two didn’t just wave when announced. They danced. Guerrero’s fun extended into the meet, too. She showed her rock mentality on the balance beam. The crowd chanted “10, 10, 10,” but a season-high 9.925 would have to suffice.
Alabama went into the final rotation with a 0.35 lead. Its first two floor routine saw a 9.7 and a 9.6.
“When we had the first two floor routines not do what they typically should, it was kind of like, ‘All right. Four up. Four count. Let’s go have fun,’” Duckworth said. “And the ladies delivered.”
Cue Desch’s best performance ever.
That sparked a fire in the floor lineup. Senior Kiana Winston matched Desch’s score, while Guerrero and junior Abby Armbrecht posted a pair of 9.9s to push Alabama’s event score to a season-high 49.4.
The Crimson Tide’s 49.325 on the uneven bars and 49.325 on beam were the second-highest marks of the season. The 48.95 on vault was its second lowest, but Alabama knows there’s still work to be done there.
Overall, it was a step in the right direction. Desch could go home to sleep and feel better. Happily.
“She pushed through and found a way,” Duckworth said. “I think that just goes to show you that even when you’re not 100 percent, you can go dig deep and find those places to be able to excel.”
Lexi Graber, 9.8
Kylie Dickson, 9.675
Ari Guerra, 9.725
Abby Armbrecht, 9.775
Nickie Guerrero, 9.85
Maddie Desch, 9.8
Ari Guerra, 9.85
Wynter Childers, 9.75
Lexi Graber, 9.85
Kylie Dickson, 9.825
Kiana Winston, 9.9
Mackenzie Brannan, 9.9
Wynter Childers, 9.825
Maddie Desch, 9.775
Abby Armbrecht, 9.85
Lexi Graber, 9.9
Kiana Winston, 9.8
Nickie Guerrero, 9.925
Ari Guerra, 9.7
Jennie Loeb, 9.6
Maddie Desch, 9.95
Abby Armbrecht, 9.9
Kiana Winston, 9.95
Nickie Guerrero, 9.9