AUBURN – There are many things about the sport of gymnastics to love, and one thing about it to be not so happy about. That one thing is that it is a judged sport – such as diving, figure skating; sometimes boxing. And everyone in the arena knows the running score.
Gymnastics scoring is in 25/1000 point, so the closest a meet between two teams can be is .025. Friday night in Auburn a Tigers gymnast equaled a score she had made only one previous time in the final event and it was enough to propel Auburn to that slimmest possible margin of victory, 197.275-197.250.
Alabama, ranked fourth in the nation going into the meet, had won 117 consecutive competitions (dual meets and tournaments) against Auburn in gymnastics prior to Friday’s loss. It was Auburn’s first win in over 36 years, since 1979. The all-time series now stands at 117-10.
“I hate to lose, I absolutely hate it,” Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth said. “But our ladies fought all the way through the meet and never gave up and I can’t be anything but proud of how we competed. We finished strong on the beam, in a pressure-packed situation, posting our second highest score of the season.
“I had the privilege as a gymnast, a volunteer coach, an assistant coach, and now as head coach to be a part of one of the most extraordinary winning streaks ever,” Duckworth said. “Everyone on this team was a part of that streak, and now that it’s over, we’ll use tonight’s experience as fuel for our fire. We’ll continue to get better and move forward.”
The Crimson Tide will have a chance to get back on the winning side quickly. Alabama returns to action Sunday in Coleman Coliseum against West Virginia. The meet starts at 3 p.m. with Big Al’s Carnival getting underway as soon as the doors open at 1 p.m. Tickets to Sunday’s meet are $1.
Alabama was solid throughout the night, scoring over 49.200 on all four events while junior Katie Bailey and sophomore Mackenzie Brannan led the way with all-around scores of 39.425 and 39.400, respectively.
“There was a lot of fierce grace out there tonight,” Duckworth said. “We have room to improve, but I am extremely proud of our fight and our drive. Anyone that has watched this team can see its talent and it’s potential for greatness.”
On the vault, sophomores Nickie Guerrero and Brannan along with senior Lauren Beers led the Tide to a 49.375 with matching 9.9s. Alabama scored a 49.300 on the uneven bars led by Bailey who posted a 9.9.
Junior Aja Sims, Brannan, Beers and sophomore Kiana Winston all scored 9.875s on the floor exercise to push the Tide to a 49.350 team total. Junior Keely McNeer posted a 9.9 from the lead-off spot on the balance beam to lead Alabama to a 49.300.