By (Terrin Waack)

The No. 4 Alabama gymnastics team fell to No. 10 Arkansas for the first time ever in Coleman Coliseum, 196.700 to 196.400.

The Crimson Tide had a rough night on the balance beam, having three gymnasts fall during their routines, but it didn’t start out that way.

Alabama went into its third rotation, starting on the beam, with a 0.65-point lead over the Razorbacks.

“I felt Keely (McNeer) led us off just beautifully,” head coach Dana Duckworth said. “She had to kind of make up her routine as she went because she had missed a connection, and she was flawless with making that look smooth.”

The improvising on McNeer’s part led her to a 9.850 score.

Then, making her collegiate debut, freshman Avery Rickett was to perform second on the balance beam for Alabama. She performed, but she was unable to finish.

Midway through her routine, Rickett fell on the beam and associate head coach Bryan Raschilla carried her off to the training table.

“When Avery (Rickett) went down, I think that was the first time in a very, very long time we actually had a gymnast not complete a routine,” Duckworth said. “I know for me, I was taken back for a moment.”

Duckworth said Rickett thought she did something to her knee, but everything looks OK.

Following the fall and an Arkansas floor routine, junior Aja Sims was to take the beam. Despite having had a teammate just scratch, Sims said she doesn’t watch the person before her, going in her own little bubble. She had no idea what had just happened.

“My teammates just looked at me and smiled, and everything was normal,” Sims said.

So when her time came to perform, she was ready and just did what she had to.

Despite Alabama’s final beam score of 48.325, Sims took first in the event with a 9.95.

After Sims’s performance, senior Lauren Beers and sophomore Kiana Winston both followed with a fall of their own. Unlike Rickett, Beers and Winston were able to get back up on the beam and finish their routine, scoring a 9.350 and a 9.275, respectively.

In the anchor spot, sophomore Nickie Guerrero finished her routine without any major hiccups. She earned a 9.900, and Duckworth said it was a clutch performance.

“Being clutch is just doing your best when you’re needed,” Guerrero said. “I just wanted to do my best for my team. That’s all I thought about.”

Alabama had a chance to bounce back on the floor exercise but fell short. It finished with a 49.375 on the floor exercise to go along with its 49.400 on the vault and its 49.300 on the uneven bars.

Setting two new season-bests, the Crimson Tide increased its vault score by 0.050 and its bars score by 0.100.

“Even when things don’t go our way, we still push through it every second,” Sims said. “We fight for everything as a team. We’re together for everything.”

Guerrero tied for first on the vault with Arkansas’s Amanda Wellick, both scoring 9.900.

Alabama took control of the bars. None of Arkansas’s gymnasts were able to score above a 9.775 and Alabama’s lowest score on the bars came in at 9.825. Winston took first with a 9.900.

It’s back to the gym now for the Crimson Tide. Duckworth said what’s done is done. It looks to learn from this loss and move forward.

“It was a team effort,” Duckworth said. “We talk about (how) we win together, we lose together.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports