Sunday Sports Brunch: Six Alabama gymnastics meets will be televised this season

Becky Hopf
The Tuscaloosa News
Lexi Graber vaults as Alabama gymnasts defeated Kentucky Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Coleman Coliseum. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Alabama gymnastics fans will have the opportunity to watch four live meets on television and two more on a tape-delayed basis this season.

Alabama will open its season, live on ESPNU, against Kentucky on Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. The Crimson Tide will perform live on the SEC Network three times: Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at home against Auburn, Feb. 12 at 5 p.m. at Georgia and March 5 at 7:30 p.m. at home against Florida.

Dates on tape delay are LSU, which will air on ESPN2 on Feb. 21 at 5 p.m., and Arkansas, airing on the SEC Network and ESPNU on Feb. 27 at 11:30 a.m.

Tide has wave of women competing in U.S. Open

Five women who have worn and competed in Crimson Tide uniforms are playing in this weekend’s 75th U.S. Women’s Open golf championship. The tournament began Thursday and concludes Sunday.

The list includes Alabama freshman Benedetta Moresco, who is No. 11 in the Women’s World Amateur Rankings. It’s her first appearance.

Making her third U.S. Open trip is Kristen Gillman, a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion who is playing her second year on the LPGA tour.

Huntsville’s Janie Jackson, also a pro golfer, is making her second U.S. Open appearance.

Three-time collegiate All-American Cheyenne Knight, who won the 2019 LPGA Volunteers of America Classic, is also playing in her first U.S. Open.

Making her third U.S. Open appearance overall but first as a professional golfer is Lauren Stephenson.

The tournament is airing on NBC, The Golf Channel and NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.

It’s cap-and-gown time at UA

Thirty Crimson Tide student-athletes were slated to graduate this weekend, including All-Americans Dylan Moses (football) and Abigail Kwarteng and Alfred Chelanga (track and field and cross country). Basketball’s Herbert Jones and quarterback Mac Jones (who, like Moses, received his master’s degree) were also among the diploma recipients.

Football had 11 in all, including Jones and Moses, as well as Najee Harris, Christopher Allen, Phidarian Mathis, LaBryan Ray, Brian Robinson Jr., Slade Bolden, Hunter Brannon, Kendall Randolph and Major Tennison.

Baseball’s Chandler Avant, a 2018 draft pick by the New York Mets, was also on the list, along with gymnast Kylie Dickson, tennis player Ann Selim, track and field athletes Stephan Holcombe, Taylor Picket and Paul Seldenand and swimming and diving’s Richard Miksi.

Nine soccer players are among the graduates listed, including Casey Wertz, Taylor Morgan, Kaley Verpaele, Gabby Duca, Kaylee Hammer, Neaka Khalilian, Brynn Martin, Gigi Schorr and Emma Thomson.

In 2020, Alabama has graduated a total of 153 student-athletes, with 100 in the spring and 23 in summer in addition to these newest graduates.

UA lands 13 swimming and diving signees

The Alabama swimming and diving teams signed 13 players during the fall signing period, as announced by head coach Coley Stickels.

The seven males signed include Nick Bohn of Cumming, Ga., a breaststroke and individual medley swimmer; freestyler Jackson Dement of Cypress, Texas; freestyle, butterfly and individual medley racer Charlie Hawke of Newcastle, Australia; Ben Hines, who competes in backstroke and butterfly and is from Nevada, Mo.; backstroke and butterfly specialist Mateo Miceli of Omaha, Neb.; Braden Rollins, a freestyler from Newburgh, Ind.; and High Point, N.C., butterfly specialist Will Watson.

The six signees for the women’s team areMela Delmenico of Sydney, Australia, who competes in freestyle and individual medley; breaststroke, freestyler, butterfly and individual medley swimmer Sophia Garrison of Round Rock, Texas; butterfly and freestyler Ann Ogren of Rochester, Minn.; 200 medley 2017 national champion and 100 backstroke Kentucky state record-holder Krista Wheeler from Louisville, Ky.; Kailyn Winter, a freestyle and butterfly swimmer from Soquel, Calif.; and 2019 Canadian national team member Avery Wiseman of Drayton Valley, Alberta, who competes in breaststroke and individual medley.

UWA basketball experiences delay of game

Nick Woodruff was scheduled to make his debut as the University of West Alabama men’s basketball coach on Friday and Saturday when the Tigers were scheduled to open their 2020-21 season at Delta State with back-to-back games. But on Thursday afternoon the Gulf South Conference announced that the games would not be played this weekend due to COVID-19 protocols. One other conference series, Mississippi Collage at Alabama-Huntsville, was also postponed. Makeup dates have not been announced.

Bo Abston gets award at AISA all-star game

Tuscaloosa Academy’s Bo Abston was named the AISA West All-Stars’ Most Valuable Offensive Back. Abston had three receptions for 105 yards and one touchdown in the all-star game.

Nick’s Kids honors local teachers

The Nick’s Kids Foundation, headed by Alabama football coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, honored 47 local teachersFriday at its ninth annual Teacher Excellence Awards. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, this year’s event was held outdoors at Tuscaloosa’s All-inclusive Playground at Sokol Park and was a drive-by celebration.

Teachers honored received a commemorative plaque and $500 in gift cards to Tuscaloosa businesses.