Despite coming out to a raucous home crowd, Alabama’s night got off to a shaky start. On vault, Alabama’s first event, sophomore Maddie Desch was penalized for an early start and freshman Lexi Graber was injured during her landing.
The Crimson Tide appeared shaken.
Instead of letting a key injury and a minor error throw them off their game, Alabama continued to compete, showing resiliency and setting the tone for what would become a strong 196.525 – 194.525 win over archrival Georgia.
“There was adversity, there was certain people not being able to go, someone stepping in, we got behind at some point,” Alabama head coach Dana Duckworth said. “And they just kept fighting and there was a great deal of consistency.”
With Graber’s injury and Desch’s early start, Alabama recorded an uninspiring 48.6 score on vault. As a result, Alabama was in an early hole after Georgia started the meet with a 49.125 uneven bars score.
It did not take long for the Crimson Tide to start digging themselves out, responding with impressive scores on uneven bars. Senior Kiana Winston led the way with a 9.925. Her fellow senior Mackenzie Brannon, who missed the Michigan meet with an illness, gave Alabama an extra boost with a 9.9.
“It was really exciting to be back in Coleman and just be in front of all the fans,” Brannon said. “Just be out there and competing again, I mean, it’s what I love to do.”
Alabama continued to build on its momentum with a well-executed performance on the balance beam. Turning around the event that was their lowest against Michigan, the Crimson Tide recorded a 49.30 and snatched back the lead from the Gym Dogs. Once again, Winston was the Alabama’s top scorer with a 9.9.
When Alabama made its way floor routine, it was clear that the momentum had shifted in its favor.
While Alabama’s gymnasts fed on the home crowd’s energy, gaining more confidence with each routine, Georgia stumbled on the balance beam. Wynter Childers tallied a score of 9.85, Abby Armbrecht earned a 9.825 and Winston finished Alabama’s night with a show stopping 9.9.
After Alabama’s loss to Michigan in the season opener, Duckworth was disappointed that her team did not seem to go “all in.” To remedy that problem against Georgia, each gymnast donned a green ribbon in her hair.
“These green ribbons they’re wearing in the hair, not only represents our support for Brian Brannon, but it also says ‘Go for it! All in. Don’t hold back.’” Duckworth said. “Green means go.”
Go they did.
The Crimson Tide earned its sixth consecutive victory over their storied rival.
Alabama gymnasts swept the top spots in each event. Winston claimed first on uneven bars, balance beam and floor, while Nickie Guerrero won vault. Wynter Childers, who Duckworth praises for her consistency, finished first in all-around with a total score of 39.325.
Not only did Alabama bounce back and get its first win of the season over rival Georgia, but the Crimson Tide also found out a little bit about their resiliency and team character.
Duckworth was especially proud of the way her team responded after the dubious start to the meet.
“It just kind of was a little bit of a shock to everybody,” Duckworth said. “But I’ll tell you this, our ladies came together and they didn’t let it affect them. And they went over to bars and did their job. Those lessons are only going to make us so much stronger in the end.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports