It started out like any other performance on the vault, but it finished perfect.
Senior Lauren Beers took a deep breath, ran down the runway and executed her routine. Soon after she stuck her landing, her scores were revealed, and Coleman Coliseum erupted. Beers earned herself a perfect 10, marking the first one this season and the first one ever under coach Dana Duckworth. The cheers that followed Beers’ score were just as loud as – if not louder than – the ones that accompanied the final announcement that No. 3 Alabama defeated No. 10 Georgia, 197.550 to 195.700.
Fellow senior Carley Sims ran to meet Beers halfway down the runway to celebrate even before the judges were finished scoring.
“I was really proud of her and just looking at how far we’ve come through our journey here,” Sims said. “Going through everything, I was just really proud of her and just thankful she is the senior who’s with me.”
Later on the floor exercise, Beers had her second shot at perfection. She hit her routine, receiving a 10 from one of the judges but finishing with a 9.975.
Beers didn’t go into the meet with thoughts of rocking her senior night, but she did it anyways.
“I just wanted to go out and do some of the last bit of gymnastics in Coleman Coliseum and just have fun doing it and not really focus on the outcome,” she said.
There were two other 10s awarded Friday night, one of which was given to sophomore Kiana Winston for her performance on the uneven bars. She finished with a 9.975. Sophomore Nickie Guerrero earned the other 10 on the balance beam, scoring a final score of 9.950.
Alabama tied its season-high scores on the vault with a 49.400 and on the floor exercise with a 49.500.
Its overall score of 197.550 also marked a new season-high for Alabama, topping its former 197.525. There are only three other teams in the nation that have scored higher – Florida with a 198.175, Oklahoma with a 197.925 and LSU with a 197.825.
“To say that we are proud of this team would be an understatement,” Duckworth said. “We have come so far and this was such a fun night. We had three goals tonight: one, to have fun; two, to love gymnastics; and three, to thank everybody before us, after us and our family for the opportunity that we get to do this every week.”
Friday night was both senior night and alumni night. There were more than 60 gymnastics alumni in attendance, holding NCAA Championship titles.
Beers and Sims were honored both before and after the meet. Duckworth said the two are individually great, but together, they are even better. Their four years together are coming to an end, and although they have polar opposite personalities, it has worked for the team.
“They mean the world to me, just to have them behind me,” Winston said. “Carley lets me know that I can be Beyoncé, and Lauren lets me know that I can be zen, be myself.”
Sims, who spent a majority of the season on the sideline due to an ankle injury that required surgery, competed on the balance beam, where she scored a 9.625, and on – her favorite event – the floor exercise, where she scored a 9.800 to close out the meet.
“That was… I really can’t explain it,” Sims said. “I just have so much fun when I get to do floor and I’m pretty sure everyone else could see that too. It just made my heart so happy when I stepped up there and just heard the crowd roar.”
Friday night was the seniors’ last regular season meet ever in Coleman Coliseum. They’ll be back for regionals, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier.
“Oh, I set everyone straight this [Friday] morning when I woke up,” Sims said. “I said, ‘Okay guys, I really love you, I’m so happy I get to share my senior year with you. I’m going to shed one tear and we’re done. No more crying for the rest, because it’s a domino effect.”
That domino effect, it didn’t happen but it almost did. As the night closed out with a video dedicated to the seniors, the reality of it all sunk in.
“I’m really proud I didn’t cry,” Beers said. “I started to during the video but I held it in.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports