We’ve heard it about football: a team makes the greatest improvement between Week 1 and Week 2. That may or may not be true in football or any other sport, but it is encouraging when a team does improve for its second competition.
That was the case for the Alabama gymnastics team this week. The Crimson Tide scored nearly half a point better Friday night than it had a week earlier. The problem is that neither Bama performance has been good enough to win in the start of a brutal schedule.
No. 4 Alabama had its home opener in Coleman Coliseum against No. 1 LSU and fell by a score of 197.575-197.100. The Tide lost to Oklahoma – ranked No. 1 in the first week of competition – in Norman to open the season.
"I cannot say enough about the electric feeling in that arena today,” Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth said. “It really made a difference in our performance.”
Kiana Winston continued an outstanding start to her junior season, sharing top honors in the all-around with a career-best 39.600. She also won the uneven bars and floor exercise with matching 9.95s.
“Kiana did that amazing bar routine and just got the crowd so excited,” Duckworth said.
Alabama started the night off with a 49.200 on the vault, going two-tenths of a point higher than last week’s opener at Oklahoma, paced by matching 9.85s from sophomore Abby Armbrecht, junior Nickie Guerrero, and senior Katie Bailey. LSU went 49.600 on the vault.
On the uneven bars, Winston nailed her routine, going 9.95 to win the event and push Alabama to a 49.250 team score. Bailey scored a 9.875 while seniors Keely McNeer and Aja Sims added 9.825s. LSU posted a 49.175 on the uneven bars.
After a fall in the second spot of its balance beam rotation, Alabama finished its set strong, including back-to-back-to-back 9.875s from Sims, Winston and Guerrero that pushed the Tide to a 49.275. It marked the second week in a row that the Tide overcame a break early in its balance beam rotation. The Tigers closed out the meet with a 49.275 on the balance beam.
“For the second week in a row we actually had a break on beam and had to come back,” Duckworth said. “That kind of resilience is what our team needs so they know that the next second is more important and only five scores count."
Alabama finished the night with a 49.375 on floor exercise that included another 9.95 from Winston and a 9.9 from Sims. Both routines brought the Coleman Coliseum crowd roaring to its feet. LSU scored a 49.525 on the floor exercise
Alabama goes back on the road next week, traveling to Missouri for a Friday matchup with the Tigers.