Alabama gymnastics posts highest score of Dana Duckworth era in win over Arkansas

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News

In her last routine of her last meet at Coleman Coliseum on Friday night, Alabama gymnastics fifth-year senior Lexi Graber stepped onto the floor exercise with a chance to make history.

Luisa Blanco had clinched the Alabama win one routine before, but Graber could give the Crimson Tide the program's first 198 score of the Dana Duckworth era, needing just a 9.8 to do so. She put up a 9.975, cementing Alabama's win over Arkansas, 198.075-196.

Alabama gymnast Lexi Graber (left) reacts to her score of 9.975 in her final floor exercise in Coleman Coliseum Friday, March 4, 2022.

"I've been here for five years now, the five best years of my life," said Graber. "It was probably the only time you'll ever see me cry. My girls set me up real well. It's unreal. I was just being free out there."

Here's what we learned about the Crimson Tide (6-4, 3-3 SEC):

Inconsistent Alabama start overshadowed by Arkansas mistakes

Alabama's vault rotation was far from perfect. While senior Shallon Olsen scored a 9.9, and freshman Jordyn Paradise added a 9.95, the rest of the rotation left much to be desired with four scores of 9.825 or worse. Arkansas (2-7, 0-7) had two fall off the uneven parallel bars, allowing the Crimson Tide to open a sizeable lead.

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Falls solved for Alabama

At times, falls have been an issue for Alabama on the bars. However, the problem was solved on Friday. Alabama had five scores of 9.9 or better, led by Blanco's 9.975. It was the first time Alabama had a bars routine without a fall in three weeks.

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Search for perfect 10 continues

After scoring two perfect 10s in 2021, Alabama's search for its first of the season will continue for at least one more meet. Two scored a 10 from one judge before finishing with a 9.975. The first was Blanco, getting a 10 on the uneven parallel bars. Graber matched her on the floor exercise, getting a 10 of her own.

What's next

Alabama will face Georgia, Arkansas and Auburn in the Elevate the Stage meet on Sunday (1 p.m. CT, FloSports).