Only seven gymnastics teams in the nation have scored a 197 or higher this year. No. 8 Alabama is not one of them.

But, with a season-high 196.9, the Crimson Tide is just a tenth short from accomplishing that task.

“Oh, we’ll probably do it this meet to be honest,” UA junior Wynter Childers said. “We are so close. We talked about just giving it away. We’ve probably given away four-tenths on vault just with sticks, and I know people can stick. We have a board over there (in the practice gym) that shows how many vaults people have stuck and everything.”

Vault isn’t even the issue. It’s actually Alabama’s highest-ranked event, coming in fourth (49.175).

The Crimson Tide, averaging a 196.169 overall, is seventh on the floor exercise (49.163) and ninth on the uneven bars (49.125). It drops down to No. 27 on the balance beam (48.706).

That last ranking doesn’t do Alabama justice, though. The team has improved its beam score dramatically, starting with a 47.7 in the season opener and knocking out a season-best 49.25 most recently.

“We put a lot of good progress in the gym this week, just as far as looking at last Friday and what do we need to improve,” UA junior Maddie Desch said. “We definitely made those changes and are most definitely looking forward to putting that into action on Friday.”

Last Friday, Alabama posted a 196.85. It was a minor step back from the season-high meet a week prior, but sophomore all-arounder Lexi Graber did not compete after injuring her big toe in warmups. UA coach Dana Duckworth said Graber has been working all four events ever since and should be good to go on vault, beam and bars Friday against No. 16 Missouri.

No. 8 Alabama at No. 16 Missouri
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hearnes Arena in Columbia, Missouri
Records: Alabama 6-2, 1-1 SEC; Missouri 4-4, 1-2 SEC
TV: SEC Network

The Tigers have a 195.769 average and a 196.45 high. They are 10th on floor (49.106), 14th on vault (48.981), 15th on beam (48.844) and 22nd on bars (48.838).

“I just told the ladies we are going to be so good we should be undeniable,” Duckworth said. “Whether that happens or not, I want to walk away from every competition knowing we made strides in improvement.”

The next step should — needs to — be into that 197 club.

“Each little thing from each person in the lineup can add to so much input that’s way over 197,” Desch said. “I think it’s definitely achievable.”

Reach Terrin Waack at or at 205-722-0229.