When Auburn won a gymnastics meet against Alabama in Auburn last year to close the series record to something like Alabama 150, Auburn 1, it seemed like a fluke. But when the Tigers had a full point lead after the first two rotations of the Elevate the Stage meet in Birmingham’s Legacy Arena Sunday, it was beginning to look serious.
Fortunately for Alabama, the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide was able to make a furious comeback, including a season best score of 49.575 on floor exercise, and defeated No. 16 Auburn by 195.850-194.675.
“Well if they wanted a show, I think they got one,” Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth said. “I’m very proud of the fight our team showed. They never gave up. They just kept believing. I think that’s the biggest lesson from tonight is that the meet is never over until the last routine has been scored.”
Things started well enough for Alabama with a 49.200 vault rotation. Senior Katie Bailey led the way with a 9.925 with junior Kiana Winston adding a 9.85.
Then came a terrible fall. Three of them, in fact, as three of the Tide’s six bars routines included falls, resulting in a 47.850 rotation total, led by a 9.825 from Bailey.
Alabama responded during the next rotation with a 49.225 on the balance beam paced by a 9.925 from Winston and 9.875s from freshman Wynter Childers and junior Nickie Guerrero.
Then came the floor exercise, and Alabama was at its best. Guerrero started things off with a 9.875, followed by another 9.875 from senior Mackenzie Valentin, just off her career-best of 9.9. Alabama finished things off with three-straight 9.9 or better scores.
Freshman Maddie Desch posted a 9.9, bettering her previous high by nearly a tenth of a point. Winston then came in and tied her season best of 9.95. Senior Aja Sims put the exclamation point on the night with a career-best 9.975 routine that.
With Auburn having problems on the balance beam and Alabama posting a season-best 49.575 on the floor, the Tide managed a two-plus point swing from the halfway point of the meet, winning by more than a point.
Bailey won the vault, while Winston took top honors on the balance beam and the all-around (39.075) and Sims earned the victory on the floor exercise.
Alabama returns home on Friday to take on Florida in the Crimson Tide's 13th annual Power of Pink meet.