Imagine going to see the Golden State Warriors only to find the Steph Curry was not playing that night. That’s how I felt, as a viewer of this on-line event, when I heard that Kiana Winston, Alabama’s best gymnast, would not compete in Friday night’s meet with Boise State due to a shoulder injury.
This meant coach Dana Duckworth had to juggle the line-up a bit, a move that hasn’t always worked in the past. But tonight’s stumbles were made by a senior and the fresh faces performed better than expected. Alabama took a slim lead during the opening round on vault and didn’t relinquish it. The Tide was paced by reigning SEC and NCAA vault champion Katie Bailey who scored 9.925 to help Alabama to a lead of 49.275-49.125.
‘Uneven’ Bar Routine
Then on the uneven bars, a fall of the type that could have cost the Tide a win against tougher competition. Aja Sims missed the top bar on a release move, earning only a 9.125. In every event, six gymnasts perform and the lowest score is dropped, but a team doesn’t want a 9.1 to be the low score. Top tier teams in regionals will be dropping 9.8s. Freshman Shea Mahoney filling in for Winston, scored a 9.825 on bars. Bama’s top bar score came from senior Amanda Jetter at 9.875. And after two rounds, the Tide lead was down to .125.
Bama Finishes Strong
The good news for Bama in dual meets is that the two final events, beam and floor, are where the Tide excels, and tonight was no exception. Aja Sims came back from her fall and a bad landing on beam to tie freshman Maddie Desch for tops on floor with a 9.925. Nickie Guerrero paced the home team with scores of 9.9 on beam and 9.825 on floor. Alabama finished with a score of 196.925 to Boise’s 196.675.
Concerns Moving Forward
There is plenty of room for Alabama to improve despite missing Kiana Winston. The teams ahead of the Crimson Tide, Oklahoma, LSU, and Florida, look a bit more sharp. Their form in the air is tighter and their landings are more consistent. To be able to pull off another SEC title at next month’s championships will be tough. But one week at a time, the Tide faces UGA next Friday.
I admit it is tiresome listening to the announcers shill for the sport rather than just calling the event. And as it was extremely distracting to see on my television screen (which was tuned in to the Florida-Missouri meet,) Florida gymnasts surround the mat during the floor exercise and mimic their teammates’ dance moves as they competed! Hello, this is an SEC meet. Not 10 and unders. Also distracting how gymnastics allows coaches to stand under gymnasts while they compete on bars and even cue them when to release for their dismount.