How often does one hear a coach – regardless of sport – talk about consistency? But what’s really needed is for athletes and teams to be consistently good.
You have to give it to Alabama gymnastics. For the 19th consecutive year, the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide finished in the top three in the Southeastern Conference Championship Meet, which has to go down as consistently excellent. Bama, the third seed, scored 197.400 to take third place at the SEC meet in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.
LSU won its first SEC title since 1981 with a score of 198.075 while Florida was second with a 197.825. Georgia was fourth with a 196.700. Kentucky (196.625), Auburn (196.550), Missouri (195.825), and Arkansas (194.900) rounded out the competition.
“There is no doubt that the most significant thing we did tonight is we never gave up,” Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth said. “We had a mistake on all four events, but the ladies just continued to battle.”
Alabama junior Kiana Winston won her second individual SEC title, taking top honors on the balance beam after tying for first on the uneven bars in 2016, while Bailey won her second-consecutive uneven bars title.
“I can’t say enough about Kiana, going 9.95 on beam and 9.925 on the floor,” Duckworth said. “She just continues to get it done each week.”
With the SEC Championships behind them, Alabama will find out its destination for the upcoming NCAA regionals on Monday at 3 p.m. CDT when the selection show will stream on NCAA.com. There are six regional sites, with the top-two teams from each advancing to the NCAA championships final site in St. Louis.
After starting the meet with a fall on the balance beam, Alabama rebounded to post a 49.400 beam score behind a 9.95 from Winston. Freshman Wynter Childers added a 9.900, just off her career-best score, while junior Nickie Guerrero anchored the beam lineup with a 9.9, her seventh consecutive 9.9-or-better on beam.
“You look at the fact that our first gymnast fell on our first event and we fought back to score a 49.400,” Duckworth said. “That just screams resilience.”
A 49.250 on the floor exercise followed, paced by a 9.925 from Winston. Sophomore Ari Guerra and senior Amanda Jetter opened the Tide’s floor rotation with back-to-back 9.85s.
On the vault, Alabama tallied another 49.400, led by a career-best 9.950 from freshman Maddie Desch. Childers opened the Tide’s run of vaults with a career-best 9.9, while sophomore Abby Armbrecht tied her career-best with a 9.875.
“I couldn’t be happier with the night Maddie and Wynter had, scoring 9.9s on vault and just being in the mix all night,” Duckworth said.
The Tide rounded out the night with a 49.350 on the uneven bars behind a huge 9.95 routine in the anchor spot by senior Katie Bailey. Bailey’s mark tied her career-best score on bars.
“Katie didn’t have the best night on her first two routines, and I told her to finish strong and she did just that with an amazing uneven bars routines,” Duckworth said.