It may seem like a time of relaxation for the Alabama gymnastics team, but don’t be deceived. After three meets in eight days, including one on the West Coast against UCLA to start the season, the Crimson Tide of Coach Dana Duckworth has only one meet this week.
That one, however, Friday at 6 p.m. CST in Coleman Coliseum, is nothing to take for granted. Alabama’s season has not only started quickly, it has started against top competition. Tonight’s opponent, Arkansas, is ranked 10th in the nation, Bama’s fourth top 15 opponent in as many matches.
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide lost at UCLA to open the season, but last weekend had a Friday home win over Missouri and a Sunday win over Auburn in Birmingham.
“We definitely jumped right into things this season,” Duckworth said. “But we had a plan and we’ve been smart in developing our depth and getting everyone some valuable experience as we’ve moved through this first week of the season.
“You can never take a night off in the SEC,” Duckworth said. “You have to be ready to go, ready to compete every time out.”
Friday’s meet kicks off a very busy Crimson Tide weekend in Tuscaloosa. Saturday’s home events include a 10 a.m. swimming and diving meet in the Alabama Aquatic Center, a football championship celebration that starts at 11 a.m. in front of Denny Chimes, and a 1 p.m. men’s basketball game against LSU back in Coleman Coliseum. The weekend closes out at the indoor tennis stadium with a women’s tennis doubleheader on Sunday starting at 10 a.m.
In the latest national rankings, Alabama is third on the floor exercise, sixth on the balance beam, fifth on the uneven bars and 10th on the vault. Including Alabama and Arkansas, there are six Southeastern Conference teams ranked in the top-10 this week.
Sophomores Kiana Winston and Mackenzie Brannan, who both made their all-around debuts this season, are ranked seventh and ninth, respectively, in the national all-around standings. Brannan is tied for ninth on the vault while junior Katie Bailey is tied for 23rd. Senior Lauren Beers is tied for 12th and junior Keely McNeer is tied for 20th on the balance beam.
Bailey and Winston are tied for 25th nationally on the uneven bars. Junior Amanda Jetter is tied for second, senior Carley Sims and freshman Ariana Guerra are tied for 11th while Bailey and sophomore Nickie Guerrero are tied for 22nd on the floor exercise.
Carley Sims will be held out of competition this week after minor ankle surgery. She is expected to back in the mix in the next couple of weeks.