Alabama gymnastics defeats Kentucky: What we learned from the meet in Lexington

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News
Luisa Blanco competes on the beam as Alabama gymnasts defeated Auburn Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Alabama gymnastics won its meet against Kentucky in Lexington on Friday afternoon, 196.775-196.4.

The Crimson Tide defeated Kentucky at home in its season opener.

Here are three things we learned:

Alabama gets strong start on bars

Alabama had six scores of 9.825 or better on its first rotation, jumping out to an early lead. The Crimson Tide was led by sophomore Makarri Doggette, who put up a 9.95. Shania Adams scored 9.9. 

Alabama's score of 49.375 was the season high for the Crimson Tide on the bars.

"We created momentum on the uneven bars and I was very proud of that performance," said coach Dana Duckworth.

Alabama overcomes shaky turn on vault

The Crimson Tide started out strong on the vault, with Emily Gaskins and Kaylee Quinn scoring 9.75 and 9.85, respectively.

But Alabama had back-to-back low scores from Mati Waligora, who posted a 9.675, and Shania Adams, who posted a 9.3, to allow Kentucky to close the gap.

Luisa Blanco and Shallon Olsen, however, posted consecutive scores of 9.85 to keep Alabama ahead.

"We made the decision to go for those big vaults so we would be prepared for championship season," Duckworth said, "even though we had an error early in the rotation."

Luisa Blanco comes up big on floor

With senior Lexi Graber not making the trip, Luisa Blanco was called upon to compete on the floor exercise, her first floor routine of the season and just the third of her career.

She came through in the clutch, posting a 9.85, her second-highest score of the meet.