By: Adam Hambright
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- Alabama Gymnastics got back in the win column by defeating No. 6 Auburn in front of a sold-out Coleman Coliseum by a score of 197.850-197.700.
“When the meet is close the crowd makes a big difference,” said Alabama Head Coach Ashley Johnston.
Shallon Olsen started the night with a bang posting a 9.875 on Vault in her return after missing the last two meets due to an injury. Luisa Blanco posted the highest score for Alabama with a 9.950. Auburn would respond with four gymnasts posting scores of 9.875 or higher on Bars. Sophia Groth and Derrian Gobourne posted scores of 9.875, Cassie Stevens posted a 9.900, and Sunisa Lee anchored with a perfect 10.000. At the end of the first rotation, Alabama trailed by 49.400-49.175.
Lilly Hudson started off the Tide In the second rotation with a 9.825 on Bars. Cam Machado posted a 9.925 and Makarri Doggette posted a 9.950. The Tigers had every gymnast post a score of 9.825 or higher but were unable to extend their lead.
At the start of the third rotation, Auburn held a lead of .225 but Alabama did not want to lose a third straight meet. Ella Burgess started the rotation with a 9.925 on Beam followed by scores of 9.875 by Mati Waligora and Gabby Gladieux. Hudson then scored a 9.975 right before Blanco scored the second perfect 10.000 of the season for the Tide. Auburn’s Lee and Gobourne would each post scores of 9.925 on Floor to keep the Tigers ahead but the lead was now down to just .050 heading into the final rotation.
The Tide saved their best for last as they posted their highest score on Floor in program history with a score of 49.700. Waligora led off with a 9.925 followed by a 9.900 from Shania Adams. Doggette would score a 9.800 but it would later be dropped for being the lowest score. Gladieux scored a 9.925 of her own to set the stage for one of the best finishes you could ever hope to see. Hudson scored a 9.975, followed by Lee scoring her second 10.000 of the night this time on Beam. Alabama needed to score at least a 9.850 to complete the comeback and Blanco delivered with near perfection. Blanco posted a score of 9.975 to win the meet and cap off a magical night in Coleman.
“The crowd really carried us throughout the entire thing,” said Hudson, “the energy was insane and we loved it and to just end that way was a memory I’ll have forever.”
Lee would win the All-Around with a score of 39.825. Blanco finished second with a 39.750 and Hudson finished third with a 39.575.
The win improves the all-time series lead for Alabama over Auburn to 132-12.
The Crimson Tide will travel to Fort Worth, Texas next week to compete in the Metroplex Challenge. Alabama will be in the Saturday night session with N0. 24 Stanford, No. 18 Arkansas and No. 1 Oklahoma.