It’s not that games and meets and matches aren’t important, but college sports is almost all about the post-season – tournaments and playoffs and the like.
That’s true for gymnastics, and over the years the Alabama Crimson Tide has been one of the nation’s best when it comes to the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Championships. The road to the NCAA championship tournament goes through the six regional tournaments.
Those begin Saturday, and one of the NCAA Regionals is in Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa begins at 4 p.m. CDT with Alabama the host team and the No. 1 seed. The top two teams in each regional advance to the NCAA Championship meet April 15-16 in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It all comes down to this weekend, to the regional championships,” Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth said. “The top-two teams advance, which makes this the most nerve wracking, but at the same time the most exciting meet of the season.”
The top-two teams, as well as the top-two all-around performers from a non-advancing team, will move on to the NCAA Championships.
The Crimson Tide, ranked fourth nationally, is hosting an NCAA regional for the 14th time and the first since 2013. Alabama welcomes No. 2 seed California, No. 3 seed Boise State along with Kentucky, West Virginia, and Bowling Green as well as four all-around gymnasts and eight individuals to Tuscaloosa.
Each team and the individual gymnasts went through a practice on Friday to adjust to the equipment and fine tune their routines ahead of Saturday’s championships.
Tickets for the Tuscaloosa Regional can be purchased through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or on line at RollTide.com. The first 1,000 UA students get in free with their Action Card.
The top-18 teams in the nation by regional qualifying score were seeded into the six regional sites. The remaining three teams come from within the region. Alabama has won an NCAA- best 30 regional titles, including the last 11 in a row. The Tide has also advanced to the NCAA Championships 33 years in a row.
This will be West Virginia’s and Kentucky’s second trip to Tuscaloosa this year, following regular-season meets on Feb. 14 and Feb. 5, respectively. Boise State was in Tuscaloosa last season for a dual meet.
The Tide opens the regional on a bye before starting competition on the uneven bars. From there, Alabama moves to the balance beam before going to its second bye. The Tide then goes to the floor exercise before finishing on the vault. Each regional team will have individual gymnasts from a school that did not advance rotating with it. Alexis Brawner of Southeast Missouri State will rotate with Alabama.