No. 9 Alabama at No. 13 Kentucky
When: Friday at 6 p.m. CT
Where: Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky
Records: Alabama 8-3, 3-2 SEC; Kentucky 4-5, 2-3 SEC
It’s not a touchy subject in a sense that whenever the Alabama gymnastics team is reminded of the fact it hasn’t broken 197 it gets uncomfortable or upset. It’s touchy in a way that it sparks a fire.
The Crimson Tide knows it needs get over that hump — and soon.
“Not for a confidence boost, just for the mere fact that we’re capable,” UA coach Dana Duckworth said. “The whole team, we’re done talking about potential. ‘Oh, this team has so much potential.’ OK, potential, shmential. It’s like let’s go. Let’s do this.”
Let’s try this for the eighth time.
Alabama’s season high is a 196.9, and that was scored five weeks ago at Georgia. Most recently, the Crimson Tide posted a 196.475, its third-lowest score of the season. That, along with the two lower marks, happened at home in front of Alabama’s own fans.
“They’re not seeing pretty much just how really consistent we are,” UA freshman Emily Gaskins said. “Like when we go and make silly mistakes on skills that I can tell you I don’t see anyone falling on, it’s stuff like that that’s frustrating. But, you know, you take it and you work with it and you improve it.”
There’s no other option. Alabama has four regular-season meets left, starting Friday at No. 13 Kentucky.
The Wildcats are averaging a 196.196 and earned a season-high 197.225. They’re 12th on both vault (48.089) and uneven bars (49.125), 16th on floor exercise (49.079) and 17th on balance beam (48.904).
Coming in at No. 9 overall with a 196.386 average, the Crimson Tide is ranked seventh on vault (49.164), eighth on floor (49.243), 10th on bars (49.164) and 21st on beam (48.814).
“If everyone individually does their best,” Duckworth said, “collectively we’re going to kick 197 in the bottom.”
She’s not wrong.
Looking at this season’s individual scores, if the best five on each event were taken and totaled, Alabama would have a 198.1 team score. Obviously, that’s plucking scores from different meets, which isn’t how any of this works. But there – even if Duckworth no longer wants to use this word – is proof of the Crimson Tide’s potential.
“We just got to put it all together,” UA junior Maddie Desch said. “I think it can not only help up break that 197 but also just kind of set us in the upward direction heading toward postseason.”
The 2019 SEC Championships are a month away.
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.