The Alabama Gymnastics team will compete in the Perfect Ten Challenge this evening in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This meet will offer several new challenges to the team. It will mark the first time that the team has competed in a full, four team competition this year. It’s the first meet on a podium. It’s the first time the team has visited Oklahoma City. It’s the first meet this year without an SEC opponent. The final challenge, top ten competition, is one Alabama has faced all year.
What do those challenges mean for the Tide? The full, four team format is what we see during the championship season each year. All four teams competing on all the apparatus, all at the same time. The podium is a preview of the SEC and NCAA Championships, as well. Experience with the format and the podium will certainly be valuable for this team and the freshman who have been a significant part of the success thus far.
The first visit to Oklahoma City is also the last meet on the road in the regular season. A great score in this meet will be very important for Alabama in the rankings. Starting Monday, the gymnastics rankings will be based on the team’s Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). To calculate the RQS, you take a team’s top 6 scores – at least 3 of them have to be road scores – throw out the highest and average the remaining five. Currently, Alabama’s RQS is based on road scores of 196.050, 196.825, and 197.500. A 197 in this meet would improve the current 196.930 RQS by almost two-tenths of a point which is half the margin between Alabama and the current RQS leader, LSU.
In other sports, the lack of an SEC opponent would mean a break for Bama, a chance to feast on lesser competition, an easy win. Not here. The other three teams participating in the Perfect Ten Challenge are #1 Oklahoma, #7 Michigan, and West Virginia.
"This meet is great for so many reasons," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "We get to compete in a new environment, and for our freshmen, they'll get to see what it's going to be like during the championship portion of our season."
Expect Alabama to have all the heavy hitters in the line-up tonight. This will not be a meet where the Senior leadership will get a rest. If Alabama is to pull out the win, they’ll need to continue to add the more difficult elements we’ve seen the last two weeks and eliminate the small form and landing deductions that have kept some of their scores from being where they need to be.
One quick note to wrap up last week’s Iron Bowl of Gymnastics, Part I. Aja Sims was named SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week for her 9.925 performance on Balance Beam.
As always fans can follow along via live scoring. The live radio broadcast is on WVUA and can be streamed here. The meet begins at 7pm CT, the broadcast usually starts about ten minutes before the official start. If you’re going to be online, drop back by here and I’ll post updates in the comments as the meet progresses.
Here’s hoping for 24 sticks on the landings and a win for our ladies.