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Sixth-ranked Alabama gymnastics defeats Missouri, has quick turn-around against Auburn in Birmingham

Sixth-ranked Alabama gymnastics opens home season with win over Missouri and next takes on Auburn in Birmingham on Sunday

The Alabama gymnastics team of Coach Dana Duckworth had pressure when it opened the season against fourth-ranked UCLA in Los Angeles last week. And the Crimson Tide had pressure when it had its home opener Friday night with a victory over No. 14 Missouri. Now, though, comes real pressure.

Alabama has won something like 110 consecutive meets against Auburn. That includes dual meets and Southeastern Conference and NCAA championship competition. Like the famous example of inevitability – a group of monkeys with typewriters given an infinite amount of time would eventually produce an encyclopedia – eventually the streak will come to an end.

Auburn gets the next chance at ending the embarrassment at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Elevate the Stage meet at the BJCC Legacy Arena. Alabama is ranked sixth in the nation, while Auburn is seventh.

For the moment, though, the Bama gymnasts can enjoy the home opener against SEC foe Missouri before 10,860 fans in Coleman Coliseum Friday night. The Tide prevailed by 197.175 to 196.050. The Crimson Tide is now 48-1-1 since 1979 in home openers, while Coach Dana Duckworth is now 2-0 when opening in Coleman.

Alabama is now 1-1 on the season.

“Our goal for tonight was to have a better performance than we did last week and we were really able to accomplish that,” Duckworth said.

The Crimson Tide used 12 gymnasts in its lineup Friday night, one more than it used in its season opener at UCLA. Freshman Ariana Guerra made her debut in the Tide’s competitive lineup while Angelina Giancroce, who opened her UA career last weekend, went on the uneven bars for the first time.

“We have been working together to do our best every day and it has paid off,” Guerra said. “It was very exciting and it was my first time being out in the arena, (or) even seeing a competition, so being a part of it was a great experience.”

After struggling on the vault at UCLA last Sunday, the Tide rebounded by .650 this week with a 49.350. Senior Lauren Beers led the Tide on vault with a 9.9 in the anchor spot while sophomore Kiana Winston and junior Katie Bailey both posted 9.875s. Missouri went 49.025 on the vault.

“I feel have made a great start by just rebounding from last week, having some incredible performances, finishing so strong on the floor exercise after coming from a balance beam set that isn’t our best,” Duckworth said.

Alabama also moved forward on the uneven bars, scoring a 49.175 paced by junior Amanda Jetter’s winning 9.875. Sophomore Mackenzie Brannan got the uneven bars rotation started with a 9.825 followed by a 9.85 from junior Keely McNeer. Bailey finished off the rotation with a 9.825 in the anchor spot. The Tigers scored a 49.050 on the bars.

On the balance beam, the Tide tallied a 49.150, just .025 off last week’s score, following 9.85s from McNeer and Beers. Mizzou was just a touch behind the Tide on beam with a 49.075.

Jetter closed out a strong night by tying her career best on the floor exercise with a 9.95. That mark was followed by a 9.9 from freshman Ariana Guerra and a 9.95 from Beers, pushing Alabama to a 49.500 on the floor exercise. Missouri score a 48.900 on the floor.

“It was so exciting, the crowd got into it after the first couple routines,” Jetter said. “I just love doing floor, it’s so enjoyable and I know all of the rest of the team looks forward to the floor routines because it’s so exciting and we just get so into it. I thought it was very cool.”

Already a bright spot in last week’s opener, the Tide improved two-tenths of a point since last week. In addition to scoring more than a point better than it did last week in the overall team tally, the Tide was also a point better than it was in its second meet in 2015.

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