Behind Nickie Guerrero’s perfect 10.0 on beam and Kiana Winston’s all-around victory, Alabama’s gymnasts soared over Auburn in Tuscaloosa by a score of 197.350-196.450, and thus righted the natural order of things. Alabama has bragging rights again taking both dual meets from the Tigers this season, after surrendering its first loss to the Tigers since 1979 last season in last year’s campaign.
Along with Guerrero’s perfect beam routine, which had the crimson clad crowd in Coleman Coliseum on its feet chanting, Kiana Winston added a 9.925 also on beam and a 9.925 on the floor to help pace the Tide during the final two rotations.
After the vault and uneven bars, Alabama led by only .25, an uncomfortable margin that was made worse by being closer than it should have been. True, Alabama seemed unable to ‘stick the landings’ on many routines which seems to outweigh almost everything else, but Auburn was just plain sloppy for the most part. The Tigers had a few nice routines including Emma Engler’s 9.9 on bars, but overall Auburn demonstrated why they are ranked 17th. The Tigers have struggled since the loss to graduation of last season’s all-around star Caitlin Atkinson. That girl was a warrior for Auburn. Despite stepping out of bounds a couple of times on floor in addition to just not looking like a quality team, Auburn somehow managed an extremely generous 196.450.
THE BIG PICTURE
Yes, it is a win and Bama’s total of 197.350 will likely keep the team in the 6 spot when next week’s rankings come out, but Dana Duckworth has some work ahead of her as the season winds down to a close. Bama needs to tighten up its performances particularly on the vault, where landings are crucial and on the uneven bars where little mistakes such as not getting quite vertical on handstands can mean the difference between a 9.9 and a 9.8. (An apology here for referring to this as Dana’s second season as head coach, it is her third—a mistake for which I would have rightly been crucified were this football or men’s basketball!)
Next up for Alabama is Boise State next Friday in Tuscaloosa. Boise is ranked #7 so this meet will not be a gimme for the Tide.
Those of you who were unable to watch missed a few spectacular performances that need to be repeated in order for Alabama to stand a chance at next month’s SEC championships. Although Florida had an off night tonight in a win over Arkansas, the #3 Gators will be ready to do battle. And #2 LSU seems destined for greatness this season. We could use a “Buckle Up” type rallying cry from anyone out there feeling creative. RTR!