How Luisa Blanco injury could affect Alabama gymnastics at NCAA Seattle Regional

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama gymnastics heads to Seattle on Thursday as the No. 5-ranked team. The Crimson Tide takes on No. 12 Michigan State, BYU and Washington in the first session of the NCAA regional. The top two in both sessions on Thursday advance to the regional final on Saturday. Here's what Alabama has to do to avoid the upset:

Lean on Lilly Hudson, Lexi Graber on balance beam

In the SEC Championship, Luisa Blanco took a hard fall off the balance beam and was unable to finish her routine. It's unclear whether she will compete in Seattle. If Blanco isn't ready to go, then Alabama should lean on freshman Lilly Hudson and senior Lexi Graber to make up for Blanco, defending balance beam national champion.

Alabama gymnast Lilly Hudson celebrates after her beam routine in the SEC Gymnastics Championship at Legacy Arena in Birmingham Saturday, March 19, 2022.

Prepare Makarri Doggette for a bigger role

Doggette has been limited due to an injury suffered in the Power of Pink meet in early February. However, with Blanco's status up in the air, it may be time to take Doggette off the pitch count. Alabama will need her to be ready to compete in the all-around if she is able.

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Continue momentum on uneven parallel bars

Alabama heads into Thursday coming off five consecutive 9.9 scores on the uneven parallel bars in the SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide will need to continue its hot streak on bars in Seattle, and maybe even go 6-for-6 to be on the safe side.

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Clean up vault inconsistency

The Crimson Tide scored just two 9.9 routines on vault in the SEC Championship, with the other four scores falling between 9.8 and 9.85. Alabama will need to improve throughout the rotation at the regional, as it can't afford another up-and-down performance in the postseason.

How to watch

Alabama's regional will be shown on ESPN2 on Thursday. The Crimson Tide will be in the first session, starting at 3 p.m. CT.