Alabama’s gymnastics goal each year is a lofty one, but no one could say it is an unreasonable aspiration. The Crimson Tide wants to have a chance at the end of the year to compete for the national championship. To do that, the team must perform well enough to make the NCAA field, advance from an NCAA Regional to the NCAA Championship semifinals, and then make it into the Super Six for the finals.
For the 34th consecutive season, Alabama made the NCAA Championship field as the Crimson Tide was in Fort Worth, Texas. And Bama was there on the final day with its NCAA-best 22nd Super Six appearance.
Alabama didn’t win the national championship Saturday night, but the Crimson Tide was in the picture until the very end of one of most competitive NCAA finals in history.
Bama finished third with a 197.4375 team score. Alabama is now the only team in the country to finish in the top four at the NCAA Championships the last eight years in a row.
Oklahoma took home its second team title with a 197.675 while LSU was second with a 197.450.
Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth appreciated the “amazing experience.” She said, “That’s what a championship is supposed to look like.”
How close was it? Going to the final rotation, the top four teams were separated by two-tenths of a point.
The Sooners used a 49.575 on the floor exercise to nail down the championship. The remaining three teams competing in the final rotation finished within one-tenth of point of one another.
Texas native Nickie Guerrero, a sophomore, closed out the Crimson Tide’s balance beam rotation and the championships with a 9.95, which propelled Alabama past fourth place Florida (197.350). UCLA (196.825) and Georgia (196.8125) rounded out the top six.
“That was a very tough competition and we knew it was going to be a tough competition coming in,” Duckworth said. “What we’re most proud of is how our ladies just trusted themselves.
“To close out on beam and to finish as strong as we started, going 49.450 and having our last athlete go 9.95, the highest score of the meet – that kind of fight, that kind of drive on the last event, on beam – I could not be more proud of our ladies and the grit they showed tonight.
“We had fun, we were dancing, we made it exciting and we were here at the Super Six with a chance to win a national championship and that’s our goal every year,” Duckworth said.
Alabama started the night on the floor exercise, scoring a 49.375 powered by 9.9s from sophomore Kiana Winston and senior Lauren Beers. On the vault, Beers’ 9.9 paced the Tide to a 49.325, which tied for the second-highest vault score of the night.
On the uneven bars, 9.8875s from sophomore Mackenzie Brannan and Winston drove the Tide to 49.2875. Guerrero’s 9.95 on the beam pushed Alabama to a 49.450 team score, the highest of the meet.