By: McKalyn Crabtree
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama Crimson Tide hosted the Georgia Bulldogs on the 18th year of the Power of Pink night. In last week’s tri-meet, the Crimson Tide was coming off its season’s best score and the highest total under head coach Dana Duckworth. The Bulldogs started to find momentum in their last meet and wanted to bring it to Coleman Coliseum.
Shallon Olsen gave the Tide a hot start on the vault with a 9.900. Still, the team finished rotation one with several uncharacteristic errors, including Shania Adams falling backwards before trying to stick the landing. Despite a few faults, the Tide had the lead over the Bulldogs. Alabama continued to add on the lead after dominating performances on the uneven bars from Luisa Blanco (9.950), Markarri Doggette (9.925), and Cam Machado and Lily Hudson with a 9.990. Despite the performances, the Bulldogs kept it too close for comfort.
Momentum started to swing for the Tide after the second rotation. Alabama made mistakes and had trouble extending the lead, which came down to the fourth and final rotation. The Bulldogs took to the beam, which has been their Achilles heel this season, and the Crimson Tide ended with the floor. During her routine, Doggette suffered what appeared to be a serious injury and was carried off of the floor. This put pressure on Blanco and Lexie Graber to score almost perfect scores to seal the win. Both gymnasts scored in the 9.900s and sealed a close win for the Tide 197.475-196.800.
“What’s beautiful about this team is that when someone makes a mistake, or someone has had an injury, the next person is ready to go. They step up, they step in, and they deliver, and they do it in such a beautiful manner with confidence and grace,” Duckworth said. “On all four events tonight, our lead-offs did their job. The goal is to maintain that momentum and kind of get the train rolling. But when we have a dip, the next second is more important. We did that a lot tonight and that will make us stronger.”
The Bulldogs might have lost, but they did not go down without a fight. Georgia had its highest team score of the season so far and will look to keep building on the momentum. The extent of Doggette’s injury has not been revealed, and it is unclear whether or not she will return later in the season. Alabama has a lot of cleaning up if they want to upset No. 5 LSU on the road next Friday night.