Why Alabama gymnastics can – and can't – win SEC championship
Alabama gymnastics has a chance to win its second SEC championship in three years on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (7-5, 4-4 SEC) enters as the No. 4 seed and will face Florida, LSU, and Kentucky in the second session. Auburn, Arkansas, Missouri and Georgia compete in the first session.
"This team has been preparing for this the entire season," Alabama coach Ashley Johnston said. "SEC is one of the most fun meets of the year."
The first session will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday with the second at 7 p.m. Both sessions will be held at Gas South Arena in Duluth, Georgia, and broadcast on the SEC Network.
Here's why the Crimson Tide can come out on top, and what might stand in its way.
Why Alabama gymnastics will win the SEC championship
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The Crimson Tide has scored a 197 or better in six of the past seven weeks, including a 198 in the Metroplex Challenge. While it would be difficult for any team to score a 198 on Saturday, a high 197 would have Alabama controlling its destiny.
The senior is one of the most accomplished gymnasts in program history, and came up clutch in one SEC championship. In 2021, Blanco stepped up on the last routine for the Crimson Tide, needing a 9.875 to clinch the championship. She scored a 9.95, giving Alabama the edge over LSU for the title. Following a regular season during which she scored three perfect 10s, she could come up in the clutch again.
Why Alabama gymnastics won't win the SEC championship
Inconsistent away from home
The Crimson Tide's highest score of the season came away from home in the Metroplex Challenge, but two of its three lowest scores -- a 196.525 at Arkansas and a 196.75 at Missouri -- did as well. The Missouri meet was the final road meet of the regular season, which hints at trouble as Alabama faces a potentially hostile crowd.
Being in the second session is preferable to being in the first, but the Crimson Tide already was facing an uphill battle as the No. 4 seed. Alabama did not get the luck of the draw, as its three opponents are top-ranked Florida, No. 2 LSU and third-seeded Kentucky, all teams that beat Alabama in the regular season.