How can Kentucky beat Alabama in gymnastics? First of all, the Wildcats need to be at home in Lexington as the home court is a real advantage in the sport. But even that wouldn’t be enough without an exceptional performance.
Kentucky used a school-record team total to defeat Alabama, which had its second highest road score of the season Friday night in Lexington. The No. 10 ranked Wildcats scored 197.475 to down the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide at 197.050.
“Kentucky did an amazing job tonight, starting out strong and powering through to the best performance in their history,” Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth said. “We started with our foot on the gas tonight, going tremendously strong on the uneven bars, but despite performing bigger vaults than we have been, we missed crucial landings. We followed vault with a wonderful floor performance, but I’m most disappointed in the fact that we didn’t keep our foot on the accelerator and do what we’re capable of on balance beam.”
It was the Tide’s fourth 197-plus score of the season, and second on the road, while Kentucky posted its second school record team total this season.
“I feel at the end, we got hesitant and were competing not to lose instead of competing to win,” Duckworth said. “We’ve got to teach this team to find the internal passion to go all in not matter what happens before or after, and to finish. That’s a lesson we had to learn and we can use that to make us better, and that is what we’ll focus on to make us better for next week.”
Alabama returns home to Coleman Coliseum for its next meet to face in-state rival Auburn on Friday. Tickets to the meet are available through the Alabama Ticket Office in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, by telephone at (205) 348-2262, and online at RollTide.com.
At Kentucky, Alabama started off with a 49.350 on the uneven bars, paced by 9.9s from junior Kiana Winston and freshman Shea Mahoney. It was a career-best mark for Mahoney. The Tide then totaled a 49.175 on the vault, led by senior Katie Bailey’s 9.900.
“I’m very proud of Shea Mahoney and the way she came through on the uneven bars tonight and I’m proud of Amanda Jetter, who once again did a tremendous job on the uneven bars,” Duckworth said.
Winston turned in a 9.925 and senior Aja Sims scored a 9.9 to push Alabama to a 49.400 on the floor exercise, a tally that also included 9.875s from freshman Maddie Desch and sophomore Ari Guerra.
“Ari got back out there on the floor exercise tonight and did an amazing routine with the double back last pass,” Duckworth said.
Alabama closed out the meet with a 49.125 on the balance beam, anchored by a stellar 9.95 from junior Nickie Guerrero.
“I can’t say enough about Nickie on beam tonight,” Duckworth said. “She crunched her ankle during floor warmups tonight and we almost pulled her out, but she said, ‘No, I can do this,’ and then went with the double-pike routine and did a great job,” Duckworth said.
Individually, Guerrero won the balance beam while Winston won the floor exercise.