Can it possibly happen? Can Alabama's 1979-present winning streak over Auburn gymnastics (118 meets and counting) possibly end tonight?
The odds are more than fair that the longest bragging rights in SEC sports can end tonight. The No. 4 Tide (3-3) take a young, banged-up team on the road to face an improving Auburn squad, only to return on Sunday at 3:00 to take on the No. 24 West Virginia Mountaineers.
This isn’t the first two-meet weekend for Alabama. It took on Missouri Jan. 15 and, like this weekend, Auburn on Jan. 17, where the Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers, 196.875 to 196.075, for its second annual Elevate The Stage meet. The way Duckworth looks at the weekend: compete on Friday, train on Sunday -just like any other week. “It’s just that we’re training under a little more of the bright lights,” she said. “It’s not much different. It’s compete Friday, train Sunday.” Friday’s meet at Auburn will start at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s meet back at home against West Virginia will start of 3 p.m., and Duckworth is extra excited to spend Sunday competing at home in front of the team's fans.
Injuries and youth aren't the real reasons for concern for this Alabama squad -- consistency is, particularly with Senior captain Lauren Beers and on the balance beam where Alabama has been, charitably, not very good the past two seasons under Coach Coach Duckworth (ironically, a two-time national champion on the beam.)
Now as a coach rather than a gymnast, the balance beam has come back to haunt Duckworth. She had three gymnasts fall during their routines against Arkansas, one was unable to finish, and most recently, she had another fall against Kentucky. Duckworth isn’t happy with the inconsistency her team has been showing on the balance beam.
I want to believe. I really, really do. However, I've had this one circled on the calendar since the bad finish at UCLA and then the debacle against Arkansas. Let's not even discuss the blowout (overscored, as usual) in Florida, or the upcoming LSU meet.
Tonight's meet begins at 7:30 CST on the SEC Network and WatchESPN. We need some serious hoodoo for this one, people. Hope for the best, in any event.