Strong beam finish lifts Alabama gymnastics to season-high road score


During a road competition in collegiate gymnastics, a team must end the evening with the most nerve-wracking event: the balance beam.

After dropping a gymnast in each of the previous three events, Alabama headed into their final rotation on the balance beam well out of reach to catch host team LSU, but with the potential to post a high score. of the season on the road if he could make it through the beam without having to count a fall.

Not only did the Crimson Tide not have a fall on beam, but the beam formation put together six consecutive routines of 9.9 or better, capped by a 9.975 from junior Luisa Blanco. That means at least one judge gave it a 10. Alabama totaled 49.625 on beam to push the Crimson Tide to 197.600 overall, which was indeed its best road score of the season.

The Tigers also had an outstanding home game and won 198,050-197,600 inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Friday night. Overall, though, Alabama head coach Dana Duckworth will be pleased with his team’s performance.

“We didn’t get the win, but there were some really outstanding performances from Shallon [Olsen]Lily [Hudson]Luisa [Blanco] and Lexi [Graber] and the whole balance beam team,” Duckworth said in a press release. “I enjoyed how this team got to the final event, out on the road and dominated. Everything that happens this season is part of what this team becomes, and I believe in this team and I know that their best gymnastics are yet to come.”

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Alabama has yet to receive a perfect 10 this season, but Blanco wasn’t the only Crimson Tide gymnast to earn a 10 from at least one judge. On vault, Lexi Graber landed her Yurchenko 1.5 and also scored a 9.975. (In regular-season collegiate gymnastics meets, each routine is scored by two different judges, and the scores are averaged to get the final routine score.) LSU’s Kiya Johnson scored a 10 on balance beam Friday night.

Graber’s jump was the culmination of a strong jump lineup that scored a 49.450, the second-highest jump total of the season. For the fourth straight encounter, Shallon Olsen led the rotation with a tough double from Yurchenko that earned the judges a 9.9.

The Crimson Tide’s two weakest events of the night were the uneven bars and the floor exercise. Alabama couldn’t find the landings he normally does on the bars and also had a few crashes on the ground landings.

Freshman Lilly Hudson competed in the all-around for the second time this season and scored a career-high 39.550, including 9.9 on floor and 9.925 on balance beam.

Alabama returns home to face Missouri next Friday at 5 p.m.

“Bouncing back from a mistake and keeping our focus and energy high no matter the circumstances was a team goal and it’s part of how we measured our success tonight,” Duckworth said. “They handled those moments like champions, but as we go forward we have to realize that hitting 24 for 24 is crucial.”


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