By: Anna Adams and Brenna Coulson
At this past Friday’s meet in Fayetteville, AK, No. 7 Alabama came out on top with an overall 197.325 to No. 6 Arkansas’ 197.000. Both teams put up good effort throughout the meet, but it was Alabama’s incredible performances on vault and beam that put them over the top for the win.
In the first rotation of the night, Arkansas competed on vault while Alabama took on the uneven bars. Savannah Pennese led off on vault for Arkansas, landing a 9.800 for the Razorbacks. Abby Johnston followed with a 9.725, and Jordan Olszewski after her with a 9.775, then Sarah Shaffer with a 9.800, and Amanda Elswick with a 9.750. Kennedy Hambrick was Arkansas’ anchor for this rotation, but she did not rotate enough in the air and fell upon landing, earning her a 9.275. Arkansas struggled to stick their landings on this first rotation, and after dropping Hambrick’s 9.275, they moved on with a 48.850.
Mati Waligora started off strong on the uneven bars for the Crimson Tide. She stuck the landing of her difficult dismount and earned a 9.900, which tied with anchor Makarri Doggette and earned them both the highest score for Alabama on the uneven bars for the night. Following her was Lexi Graber with a 9.775, Cam Machado with a 9.800, Shania Adams with a 9.875, Luisa Blanco with a 9.850, and Makarri Doggette closed off the first rotation of the night with a 9.900. With a solid start and a strong finish, the Tide moved to vault leading the meet with a 49.325.
In the second rotation of the night, Arkansas’ Bailey Lovett led off with a 9.825. Kiara Gianfagna followed her with a 9.850, then Jensen Scalzo with a 9.875, Sarah Shaffer with a 9.825, and Kennedy Hambrick with a 9.725. Maggie O’Hara anchored bars for the Razorbacks, sticking her landing and earning a 9.950 which was not only the highest score on bars for the night, but also a season high for the gymnast. The Razorbacks left the second rotation with a 49.325 on the uneven bars to match the Crimson Tide, and a 98.175 overall.
On the vault, Emily Gaskins started for Alabama and earned a 9.700. Shallon Olsen followed with a 9.850, tying her season high for the second week in a row. Mati Waligora earned a 9.825, Luisa Blanco earned a 9.900, and Lexi Graber and Shania Adams both earned themselves a 9.775. Alabama left this rotation trailing Arkansas’ by 0.2, but winning the meet overall with a 98.450.
In the third rotation of the night, Kiara Gianfagna started off on beam for the Razorbacks. She earned a 9.875 for her routine. Following her was Bailey Lovett with a 9.725 after a near-fall on her front arial and Maggie O’Hara with a 9.875. Sarah Shaffer fell off of the beam near the end of her routine, giving her an automatic 0.5 reduction that resulted in a 9.300. Finishing off the beam portion of the night for Arkansas was Sophia Carter with a 9.825 and Kennedy Hambrick with a 9.950. Hambrick’s score tied with Alabama’s Lexi Graber for the highest score on the balance beam for the meet. Arkansas ended this rotation with a 49.250 on balance beam and a 147.425 overall.
Alabama began their third rotation on the floor. Sania Mitchell was engaging in her performance and earned a 9.850. After her came Emily Gaskins’ crowd pleasing routine including pieces of Dixieland Delight and Sweet Home Alabama, earning her a 9.875. Following her was Shallen Olsen with a 9.700, Shania Adams with a 9.825, Lexi Graber with a 9.850 and Luisa Blanco with a 9.875. Alabama’s dynamic and engaging routines and solid tumbling earned them a 49.325 on the floor and kept them in the lead with a score of 147.775 heading into the fourth rotation.
In the final rotation of the night, Arkansas took on the floor confidently. Abby Johnston earned a 9.925 for her smooth and confident routine. Madison Hickey followed her with a 9.875, then Sarah Shaffer with a 9.925, and Bailey Lovett with a 9.850. Kennedy Hambrick (who is eighth in the nation on floor) and Sophia Carter both rounded out this rotation for the Razorbacks with a solid 9.925. Arkansas left this final rotation with a 49.575 on floor, winning over the Crimson Tide on the floor. Their final score for the night was a 197.000.
Alabama came out strong on the balance beam. Alonza Klopfer’s confident routine earned her a 9.875. Mati Waligora tied her teammate Luisa Blanco and her personal career high with a 9.925. Shania Adams’ difficult routine including a tough double turn earned her a 9.875. Makarri Doggette had a big fall from her side aerial dismount, but got back on the beam and finished her routine earning a 9.250. Lexi Graber came out on top for this rotation with a 9.950. The Crimson Tide finished their final rotation beating Arkansas on beam with their highest score since 2017, a 49.550. This brought their final score for the night to a 197.325, bringing them out on top.
Next Friday, Alabama will face the Florida Gators in Coleman Coliseum for their final home meet of the season, competing for a chance to share the SEC Championship title.