More than a year had passed since Alabama gymnast Wynter Childers last competed all-around. For the most part, she had been working just two events. And this season, she had already missed a meet.
But on Friday night, Childers contributed in all four rotations, as No. 9 Alabama lost to No. 5 LSU 197.45 to 196.85 in Coleman Coliseum.
“It’s good to know my body can still do it,” Childers said. “The whole time I was like, ‘I’m just excited to be here. I have an opportunity.’”
That opportunity came when Lexi Graber injured her right big toe during vault warmups. Graber was slated to go all-around, just as she did in every meet. Instead, she was sidelined in a walking boot.
Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said after the meet Graber was being looked at by a doctor. No word on Graber’s status beyond that.
“Our loss had nothing to do with the fact Lexi wasn’t out there,” Duckworth said. “I think what’s really even more exciting is we went 196.85 without one of our best all-arounders, and there’s still more to add.”
Childers kicked off that overall performance, too. She led the meet on vault, making her season debut on the apparatus. She scored a 9.775 that was ultimately dropped. Alabama’s 49.175 was highlighted by Shallon Olsen’s 9.9, which tied her career high.
On the uneven bars, Childers posted a season-high 9.85 that counted toward Alabama’s season-high 49.225. Shea Mahoney had a season-high 9.95 that won her the individual title.
LSU to that point —midway through after two rotations — already had a 0.325-point lead over Alabama. It was too large of a gap to ultimately close, but the Crimson Tide’s season-high 49.25 on balance beam helped make it seem possible.
“I literally told Maddie (Desch) right before beam, ‘I’m just so excited. This is so fun. I’m having a good time,’” said Childers, who ended up with a 9.925 that not only tied her career high but also Friday’s highest beam score.
Beam is by far Alabama’s most improved event this season. It has increased its score by 1.55 points since the first meet.
“Honestly, if you asked us, it’s not a surprise,” Desch said. “… I just think each meet we’ve grown in some aspect every way, and we’re going to continue to grow. But beam, we just showed what we’re definitely capable of.”
The momentum carried into the floor exercise, where Alabama scored a 49.2. Childers matched her season high with a 9.8. Abby Armbrecht had the best mark on the Crimson Tide with a season-high 9.925
Childers may have finished third in the all-around competition, but her 39.35 was better than her 39.325 back on Jan. 12, 2018, the last time she did every event.
“I don’t even know that I knew she was going to do all-around. … She was in that seventh spot,” Duckworth said. “It wasn’t about, ‘Oh, I want Wynter to go all-around.’ It was what we talk about all the time: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. She was prepared, the opportunity presented itself, and she went in there and did a great job.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.
Wynter Childers: 9.775
Emily Gaskins: 9.825
Abby Armbrecht: 9.825
Shea Mahoney: 9.8
Ariana Guerra: 9.825
Shallon Olsen: 9.9
Ariana Guerra: 9.85
Wynter Childers: 9.85
Jensie Givens: 9.75
Shea Mahoney: 9.95
Kylie Dickson: 9.5
Emily Gaskins: 9.825
Alonza Klopfer: 9.825
Maddie Desch: 9.825
Wynter Childers: 9.925
Shallon Olsen: 9.8
Emily Gaskins: 9.875
Angelina Giancroce: 9.775
Maddie Desch: 9.85
Shea Mahoney: 9.725
Abby Armbrecht: 9.925
Wynter Childers: 9.8
Ariana Guerra: 9.775
Shallon Olsen: 9.85