By: Adam Hambright
NORMAN, Okla.- Alabama Gymnastics finished in second place in the first session of the Norman Regional Semifinal with a final score of 197.375 to advance to the Regional Final.
Kentucky finished in first place in the session with a score of 197.475 while Iowa and Illinois were eliminated.
The Tide did not have the best start to the session but overcame the mistakes and finished strong in the final three rotations.
In the first rotation on beam, Ella Burgess and Shania Adams each posted scores of 9.900. Rachel Rybicki received a score of 9.800 and Gabby Gladieux posted a 9.825 to set up Lilly Hudson and Luisa Blanco who have the most consistent gymnasts in the event all season. Hudson would go on to score a 9.750 which would have to be counted after Blanco fell off the beam for only the third time in her career and receive a score of 9.400.
At the end of the first rotation Alabama only had one-tenth of a point lead over the cut line.
Things seemed to start going the Tide’s way in the second rotation on floor. The lowest score of the rotation was Gladieux’s score of 9.800. Mati Waligora and Adams each received a score of 9.875 while Cam Machado added a 9.850. Hudson and Blanco would recover from their performance on beam and each scored a 9.900 to grow the lead to five-tenths of a point and they would not look back.
Gladieux started the third rotation on vault and was almost as perfect as the freshman was at the SEC Championships. This time Gladieux only received a 9.900. Jordyn Paradise followed with a score of 9.875. Then Makarri Doggette competed for the first time in the session but under-rotated and would score a 9.525 that would be dropped. Hudson and Blanco would score 9.900 and 9.800 respectively before Shallon Olsen anchored the rotation with another 9.800.
The Tide saved their best for the final rotation on bars. Hudson led off with a score of 9.850 and would be followed by Karis German who would post the low score of the rotation with a 9.750. Waligora would follow with another 9.850 before Machado posted a score of 9.900. Doggette then rebounded from her vault and would score a 9.950. Blanco closed out the session by tying her career high on bars with a score of 9.975.
No. 8 Alabama will look to have a stronger start on Saturday when they compete in the Norman Regional Final against No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 9 Kentucky and No. 16 Ohio State on Saturday at 5 p.m. CST.
The top two finishers on Saturday will move on to the NCAA Championships.