Alabama Gymnastics Came Up Short in Ft. Worth
The Crimson Tide gymnastics team came up short in the NCAA National Championship Semifinals Thursday afternoon. For the semifinals, there are six judges with the highest and lowest scores being dropped. The other four scores are then averaged.
Alabama started the competition off on the uneven bars where they ranked third in the nation on the event. Emily Gaskins started the Tide of with a 9.800. The last two gymnasts in the lineup are consistent 9.9+ bar workers; however Makarri Doggette and Luisa Blanco only scored a 9.8625 and a 9.875. After that rotation, fans expressed their frustrations on the scores.
Alabama trailed Oklahoma and Utah heading into the second rotation. The Tide started off the beam with a strong 9.8875 from Ella Burgess. Shallon Olsen had a balance break and scored a 9.725 which is the score Alabama wanted to drop; however, Lilly Hudson was under rotated on her beam dismount causing her to almost fall. Hudson scored a 9.600 which is the score Bama ended up dropping. The reigning NCAA beam champion returned to the lineup to give Alabama some much needed fuel. Blanco scored a team meet high 9.9375 anchoring the beam lineup.
The Tide trailed Utah by .375 of a point heading into the third rotation. Olsen came back strong after her balance check to score a strong 9.850 to lead off the floor rotation. Alabama didn't score many flashy scores; however the floor lineup performed consistently solid routines. Olsen's score was actually the one dropped after Lexi Graber and Hudson scored above a 9.9.
The consistent routines helped close the gap slightly on Utah with Alabama trailing by .1375 of a point going into the final rotation. The Crimson Tide tied their highest vault score last time they competed which provided some momentum; however, the Utes ended the afternoon on an event they rank first in the country on, the balance beam. Alabama's vault lineup didn't do as well as their last time out. Olsen started the Tide off strong with a 9.875; however Alabama had to count two scores below a 9.800 which sealed the team's fate.
While Alabama didn't make it to the NCAA finals, Team 48 etched their names into the program history books. This team set the program record for the most meet scores of 198+ in a single season (3) as well as tying the highest scores in program history on the floor exercise and the uneven bars. Head coach Dana Duckworth said the team had fun while making history.
"And while this isn't the way we wanted to close out 2022, I am super proud of what these women came together to accomplish and who they have become during the journey," Duckworth said.
Alabama most likely loses multiple key contributors heading into next season. Fifth-year senior Lexi Graber ran out of eligibility. The other seniors could return for an extra season if they choose to do so because of the extra year of eligibility due to COVID. It's unclear at this time if anyone will return for another season. The Crimson Tide has a handful of promising freshman and multiple sophomores and juniors to carry on the legacy.