Alabama gymnastics coach Dana Duckworth called Friday’s 195.85-to-194.525 win over Missouri a hot mess. Verbatim. She did not stutter.
There was even a diva belt present inside Coleman Coliseum.
“This was not the performance we were looking for this evening in the sense that we really wanted to trust, we wanted to attack, we wanted to be present,” Duckworth said, “and we wanted to get a great home performance.”
It was Alabama’s second-lowest score of the season.
To be clear, the diva belt is a good thing. Alabama has a customized belt a gymnast wears when she sticks a landing. The idea stemmed from UA football’s turnover belt. It’s meant to be fun and relax the team.
Only, there wasn’t too much relaxing going on for the Crimson Tide. Adversity plagued it from the start.
Duckworth made the decision earlier this week that Wynter Childers, who has been Alabama’s only all-around competitor, would sit this meet out. Duckworth said Childers “started to gain some major fluid in her knee” that was bothersome. She was told to rest.
Then, fellow sophomore Shea Mahoney rolled her ankle during warm-ups. She was slated to compete on three events but was taken out of the lineup completely before competition began.
“We never make excuses,” Duckworth said. “… So your lineups change in your fourth meet of the season, it shouldn’t make a difference at all, and I don’t think that’s what it was.”
Alabama started on vault and put out only five gymnasts. No scores could be dropped, so UA ended up with a 48.975, its second-lowest vault score of the season.
It then moved to the uneven bars where it posted a 49.125. Balance beam followed with a 48.625. Both were season lows.
“I’m not even sure the last time we started with two falls on balance beam,” Duckworth said.
But that did happen.
Alabama closed out with a 49.125 on the floor exercise, which, like vault, was UA’s second-lowest mark on the event this year.
There were still some bright spots Duckworth won’t forget.
Senior Nickie Guerrero took first on vault with a 9.925. Freshman Lexi Graber won bars with a career-high 9.9. Senior Kiana Winston took beam with a 9.9. And junior Abby Armbrecht stole the show with a career-high 9.95 on floor.
They all shared time sporting the diva belt.
“Oh my gosh, that was so exciting,” Graber said. “I was originally going to be exhibition, so I was just getting ready for that and preparing myself. Then, Shea was unable to do it, and I had her back.”
Said Armbrecht: “I loved it. I love this floor routine. It’s my favorite floor routine I’ve ever had, and I just have a blast performing it every single time.”
These gymnasts – among others – stepping up and doing well were the reason Duckworth considered this meet a hot mess rather than just a flat-out mess. Those bright spots.
And, as always, lessons were learned.
“The cycle of success is: You are tested, you fail, you learn, you grow, you retest,” Duckworth said. “Oh, by the way: You test, you fail, you learn, you grow, you retest.
“I truly feel like that was tonight.”
Maddie Desch, 9.775
Abby Armbrecht, 9.725
Lexi Graber, 9.775
Kylie Dickson, 9.775
Nickie Guerrero, 9.925
Ari Guerra, 9.875
Angelina Giancroce, 9.125
Shea Mahoney, 9.9
Kylie Dickson, 9.75
Kiana Winston, 9.85
Mackenzie Brannan, 9.75
Peyton Ernst, 9.05
Alonza Klopfer, 9.225
Abby Armbrecht, 9.8
Lexi Graber, 9.825
Kiana Winston, 9.9
Nickie Guerrero, 9.875
Ari Guerra, 9.75
Jennie Loeb, 9.65
Maddie Desch, 9.9
Abby Armbrecht, 9.95
Nickie Guerrero, 9.85
Kiana Winston, 9.675