-ed. : This post comes to you courtesy of Cyndee Bowers, aka Bamagirlcj, who will be writing about gymnastics for us along with some other sports going forward. Welcome aboard!
The #6 ranked Alabama gymnasts take on #17 Auburn tonight at Coleman Coliseum, as the 2017 season enters its stretch run. The Tide beat the Tigers just a couple of weeks ago at the annual Elevate the Stage meet in Birmingham, but taking a two-fer would be oh so sweet.
Last season you may recall Auburn gymnastics made national news by defeating Alabama, snapping a staggering 117 meet losing streak that dated back to 1979. To my semi-educated eyes it seemed the fix was in that day. It felt a bit like it had been decided that Auburn’s program needed to vault over the crimson roadblock and the tigers did by a razor-thin margin of .025. Gymnastics meets are often decided by less than a point so a judge or two bumping up even a couple of scores a tiny bit can be enough to make the difference. Again my bias may be showing, but I don’t think so.
Alabama brings a record of 3-4 into tonight’s meet. The Tide opened the season with a loss at #1 ranked Oklahoma and then lost the next week to #2 LSU. Disappointingly, Alabama has also lost for the first time in school history to both Arkansas and Kentucky. Second year coach Dana Duckworth has taken some responsibility after switching up the line-ups which has amounted to allowing less seasoned gymnasts to compete, perhaps before they were ready. In addition, Alabama gymnasts have struggled more on the uneven bars than they have in the past. That being said, wins and losses don’t really matter at this point in the season since the national rankings are based on a team’s cumulative score. Alabama’s average for the season is 196.725, with a season high of 197.825 in a huge win over the #3 ranked Florida Gators. UCLA and Utah check in at #4 and #5. Auburn has struggled this year and the Tide should roll.
Tonight’s meet will be televised on the SEC Network beginning at 7:30 CST. If you can’t get to Coleman to watch in person, you might want to tune in. If you haven’t seen college gymnastics, the level of talent may surprise you. Alabama has several gymnasts to keep an eye on, including junior Kiana Winston, who is currently ranked 8th in the country in all around, which means that she competes in all four events: the beam, the uneven bars, the vault and floor exercise. KiWi, as she is called by her teammates, has already been awarded a perfect ten for a floor routine that includes a double back flip layout. Last year’s national champion in vault senior Katie Bailey is back. As is Aja Sims who has dance moves, in addition to tumbling, that always bring a crowd to its feet. Freshman Maddie Desch has competed for the US National Team. She is finding her footing so to speak at the collegiate level which has a much more rigorous schedule with weekly meets to go with the more limited 20 hour a week practice schedule.
I offered to write about gymnastics because I love watching our team and want to share my enthusiasm. Please bring your comments and criticism. I am not always right, but I am not afraid to voice my opinions and I welcome yours. RTR. Beat AU.