By (Matthew Speakman)

On senior night, No. 6 Alabama gymnastics had its fair share of ups and downs. The Crimson Tide, hoping to send its senior class out on a positive note, suffered multiple falls on the uneven bars and the balance beam that put them behind.

Alabama was able to bounce back, delivering a season-best floor performance (49.65) that earned them a victory over Iowa State.

“I brought the girls together and I said, ‘Okay, we dug ourselves in a hole, but we are an amazing floor team and we need to go out there and we need to stay focused and we need to do our job and have a lot of fun,’” said head coach Dana Duckworth. “You know, they had a lot of fun.”

Alabama’s floor performance, coupled with a season high on vault, was key in the team’s 197.1-196.6 victory over the Cyclones. The team had five gymnasts deliver 9.9-or-better scores in a row on floor.

Freshman Maddie Desch, who has been a consistent force in the event, posted a new career high with a 9.95. Two routines later, senior Aja Sims posted a 9.975 to cap off her final meet in Coleman Coliseum.

“It was really bittersweet. I really just wanted to give it all out and have the most fun I could,” Sims said. “Being in front of our amazing fans, one of the best in the nation, I just wanted to give it out to my team and just bring it out on the floor one last time.”

Along with floor, Alabama’s vault performance was the best of the season. The team put together multiple 9.9 scores in the event and saw senior Katie Bailey post a 9.875. Before tonight, its season high was 49.375. Tonight, they shattered that with a score of 49.5.

Duckworth has been waiting for the team to put together a vault performance like it did tonight.

“You have to look at where did we start, and where did we finish,” Duckworth said. “We started on vault with one of the best vault performances we have done. You know, when you thinking about that moment that took your breath away, Nickie Guerrero’s vault was electric.”

Part of the reason behind Alabama’s success on vault in this meet was Desch’s one and a half. Earlier this season, Guerrero was the only one who was using a one and a half on vault. Now, Alabama can close its rotation out with both gymnasts having the potential for big scores.

“I’m so grateful that I have a team that can really back me up so I got the opportunity to try it,” Desch said. “So just to see all of those girls in front of me hit those vault and not just good, but great, it gave me that more comfort in myself.”

Despite the two big performances in vault and on floor, the Crimson Tide did have some stumbles. The team suffered two falls on bars, and two falls on beam. The team had to count low scores in both events.

When the team needed it the most, junior Kiana Winston and Guerrero, who call themselves “the beam team,” finished out the beam rotation with a 9.975 and 9.925, respectively, to get Alabama back on track.

“We just stayed in the moment,” Guerrero said. “Me and Kiana do a really good job of just focusing on the next second. I think we wanted to go out there for our seniors today, and that’s what we did.”

Next, Alabama will travel to Jacksonville, Fla. to compete in the SEC Championships. With the team digging themselves in a hole in the middle of the meet and bouncing back, Duckworth believes tonight was special.

“It was total teamwork,” Duckworth said. “These ladies have a chemistry and a love.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports