Sunday Sports Brunch: Alabama gymnastics starts 2021 season with a win over Kentucky

By Becky Hopf
The Tuscaloosa News
1/8/21 WGY Alabama vs Kentucky
Alabama gymnast Shania Adams
Photo by Rodger Champion

Trailing Kentucky by .025 going into the final rotation, Alabama’s gymnasts outperformed the Wildcats with its floor exercise routines to defeat Kentucky, 196.85 to 195.825, on Friday. It was the season opener for both teams.

The meet was held at Coleman Coliseum in front of a COVID-19 limited capacity of 2,055 fans.

Alabama opened the floor exercises with Alonza Klopfer’s 9.85 followed by Tuscaloosa’s Sania Mitchell’s 9.85. Griffin James, who had a season-ending Achilles injury in 2020, performed third and scored a career-best 9.9. She was deducted one-tenth of a point when she failed to salute the judges at the end of her routine, an omission said to have occurred due to her emotional status of her triumphant comeback. Alabama’s final scores on floor were Lexi Graber’s 9.925 and Shania Adams with a 9.85 to bring Alabama’s team score on floor to 49.275.

“Our team was so excited to compete tonight,” said Alabama coach Dana Duckworth. “Our team had waited 10 months, since March 12, to be able to experience this, and what I saw was and absolute team effort.”

Thirteen of Alabama’s 15 available gymnasts competed.

Alabama’s Mati Waligora and Makarri Doggette were co-winners on the balance beam with 9.925 scores. Graber won the floor exercise and led Alabama with a 9.875 on vault. Adams scored 39.275 for Alabama’s best all-around score.

Alabama’s next meet is at Missouri on Friday, Jan. 15. Alabama returns home to host Auburn at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Prielipp gets another preseason honor

Pitcher Connor Prielipp has been named a first-team Preseason All-American by Perfect Game USA. The Alabama hurler was also honored as a first-team All-American in the preseason by Collegiate Baseball News last month.

Alabama pitcher Connor Prielipp (4) delivers a pitch as the Crimson Tide opened a series with Lipscomb Friday, March 6, 2020. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Last season, Perfect Game USA named him its 2020 Impact Freshman of the Year in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, where he had four starts and finished 3-0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA in 21 innings pitched.

Petty scores a triple-double in Stillman win

Stillman College senior guard Trey Petty scored a triple double in the Tigers’ 89-73 road win at Rust College. Petty scored a career-high 38 points, grabbed14 rebounds and had 12 assists.

In that win against Rust, Stillman’s Ladarius Carter scored 18 points and Derrick Finklea 12. It was Stillman’s 2021 season opener.

On Friday, Stllman opened Southern States Athletic Conference play with a 86-83 home win against William Carey, led by Ladarius Carter's 22 points. Petty scored 18 points in that game. Devin Merriweather's 20 points included a layup in the final 10 seconds of the game to lift the Tigers to the win. Derrick Finklea came off the bench to scored 14 points and pull down eight rebounds. Virgil Fields led the game with 12 rebounds.

Stillman women open with a loss

The Stillman College women’s basketball team played its home opener on Jan. 5 at Rust College left Holly Springs, Miss., with a 69-41 loss.

Senior guard Morgan Collins made four 3-point baskets to lead Stillman’s scoring with 16 points. She also had five rebounds and three assists. On Friday, in its Southern States Athletic Conference opener, Stillman lost to William Carey University, 60-55, in Birthright Alumni Hall.

Tide tennis back on the court

The Alabama men’s tennis team announced the start of its spring season, which was scheduled to open Jan. 8 with the three-day Bama Spring Shootout featuring players from Alabama, Texas and Mississippi State. The dual season opens Jan. 16 with a pair of home matches against Samford. The Crimson Tide opens itsSEC slate at Florida on Feb. 19.

Two ACA athletes sign scholarships

Two more athletes from American Christian Academy have signed National Letters of Intent. Kristin Hobson has signed with Dallas Baptist University for track and field and cross country. McKenzie Skelton signed a bowling scholarship with Mount Mercy University.

UWA football will take part in Ultimate HBCU Experience

The University of West Alabama football team will play Savannah State in the Ultimate Historically Black College and University Experience presente. The game will kick off at 4 p.m. at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Because of COVID-19 shutdowns, UWA did not have a fall 2020 football season.

West Alabama head coach and Pensacola native Brett Gilliland will face off against the University of West Florida in Saturday's NCAA Division II quarterfinals in LIvingston, Alabama.

UA women’s golf sets spring schedule

The Crimson Tide women’s golf team will open the spring portion of its schedule Feb. 14-16 at the Moon Golf Invitational in Viera, Fla., followed by the Feb. 21-23 Lady Gator Invitational hosted by the University of Florida.

Alabama will be in Columbia, S.C., March 1-3 to compete in South Carolina’s Gamecock Intercollegiate; in Athens, Ga., March 19-21 for Georgia’s annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic; and, to conclude the spring regular season, at LSU’s Tiger Golf Classic April 6-7.

Alabama women's golf coach Mic Potter coaches Angelica Moresco.

Birmingham is host to the SEC Championships at Greystone Golf Course on April 14-18. NCAA regionals are May 10-12 at sites around the country and the national championships will be held May 21-26 in Scottsdale, Ariz., at Grayhawk Golf Club.

Alabama played in three tournaments in the fall of 2020.

Tide track team announces indoor schedule

Alabama announced its 2021 indoor track and field schedule Friday. The first meet is set for Jan. 15-16 in Nashville at the Vanderbilt Commodore Invitational.

On Jan. 23, the Crimson Tide will compete at the University of South Carolina’s Carolina Challenge, followed by the Jan. 30 Bob Pollock Invitational hosted by Clemson, the Feb. 5-6 South Carolina Invitational in Columbia and the Feb. 12-13 Tyson Invitational hosted by the University of Arkansas.

Arkansas is also host to the SEC Indoor Championships Feb. 25-27. The NCAA Indoor Championships are also in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 11-13.

Alabama’s 2021 indoor squad includes nine returning All-Americans.

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