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Alabama Bests Auburn in the Iron Bowl of Gymnastics

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Alabama collects their 111th consecutive win over rival Auburn.

Lauren Beers anchors the Tide on the floor exercise.
Lauren Beers anchors the Tide on the floor exercise.
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It is the streak that just won't stop.

Alabama Gymnastics had racked up 110 consecutive victories over cross state rival Auburn going into Friday night's highly anticipated match-up. In a rivalry dating back 41 years, the Alabama Crimson Tide women had enjoyed a 35-year stronghold on state gymnastics supremacy. Alabama and Auburn last met in the regular season on March 14, 2014, when the Tide defeated the Tigers 197.925 - 196.175. Coleman Coliseum was packed with 13,028 screaming Tide gymnastics faithful, eager to see if the long standing streak would continue.

Alabama would begin the night on the vault, where they are ranked third in the nation. Sophomore Keely McNeer got the tide started strongly, contributing a 9.8. Consistent scores followed, with senior Kayla Williams earning a 9.9 to finish the Tide's first rotation. Auburn suffered a fall on bars, and trailed Alabama 49.200 - 49.075.

The second rotation brought Alabama to the uneven bars, and McNeer set the tone with a 9.825. Sophomore Katie Bailey and Junior Lauren Beers, the Tide's lone all-arounders, both earned 9.9's. Senior Kaitlyn Clark had an uncharacteristic fall, but the score would be dropped. Auburn gained ground on Alabama with a strong vault rotation, but the Tide held the lead with a 98.550 to the Tiger's 98.400.

Alabama headed to the balance beam for the third rotation, where they continued their run of consistent work on the event. Kayla Williams got things started off nicely, with a 9.825. The Tide's beam lineup all performed solidly, including back-to-back 9.9's from McNeer and Beers. Auburn was on the floor exercise, where they gave a good but unspectacular performance. After three rotations, Alabama pulled further ahead, leading Auburn 147.875 - 147.425.

The final rotation would put Alabama on their strongest apparatus, the floor exercise, where they are No. 2 in the country. Shakers in hand, the gymnasts not competing on floor cheered their teammates and played along with fans during the touch warm-up period.

Senior Lora Leigh Frost was out of the gate first with a fierce, polished routine that brought a 9.850. Her teammates built on that score, performing with confidence and consistency. Lauren Beers brought it home for the Tide with an outstanding performance that combined expressive choreography and powerful, clean tumbling. Her score of 9.900 concluded the Tide's competition and was more than enough to give Alabama the victory. Auburn had a strong showing on the balance beam, but was unable to catch the Tide in the final rotation.

Alabama's winning streak versus Auburn reached 111 meets, and Coach Dana Duckworth earned her first victory as a head coach in the Iron Bowl of gymnastics. The team either tied or improved their season-high scores on beam, bars, and floor. Lauren Beers won the all-around title, making it her second of the season.

The Tide will have a chance to extend the streak to 112, as they face the Tigers again this season at a neutral site meet in Birmingham on March 8th.

The Tide gymnastics team will be at home again at Coleman Coliseum next Friday night at 7 p.m. when they face No. 15 Boise State. It will be the 11th annual Power of Pink meet, which supports the fight against breast cancer and honors survivors. Tickets can be purchased on rolltide.com or by calling the Alabama Ticket Office at 348-BAMA.