The 2018 Alabama Gymnastics team has had, even by its recent history, an uneven season. Going into Friday night’s meet, the 10th-ranked Tide was sitting at .500 and had posted 195s twice — and had yet to score into the 197s. Facing a team that it had lost to the last three times, the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks, Alabama simply could not lose its signature event, the annual Power of Pink meet.
The Tide, fueled by the emotion of the crowd and finally fielding some quality scores on the floor, had its best meet of the season. ‘Bama posted a high of 197.000 in a decisive win in Coleman Coliseum.
Kiana Winston and Nickie Guerrero continued to lead the team, with Winston tying for a Floor title and an Uneven Bars title. Guerrero, perhaps the nation’s Best beam athlete, added another title on that apparatus and picked up her fourth Vault title of the season.
Said Maddie Desch, who tied Winston for a Floor title, “there was also that reminder that we were competing for something bigger than us and that gave me more energy.”
After a brutal early season stretch that saw ‘Bama post road losses in Ann Arbor (No. 7 Michigan) and Baton Rouge (No. 2), and compete against five-straight ranked teams, the Tide’s path does not get easier. Alabama faces the No. 5 Florida Gators in Gainesville this Friday. Though Alabama has a two-meet winning streak over UF, the teams have not met since ‘Bama’s 2015 SEC Championship. Gainesville, even moreso than Baton Rouge, is a notoriously friendly venue for home scoring.
Stranger things have happened, but consistent improvement and carrying over Friday night’s momentum, rather than demanding a win, would be the most encouraging sign that the team is growing into its own at the halfway point of the season.
The Power of Pink initiative, started by legendary Alabama coach Sarah Patterson during the 2004-05 season, raises awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Prior to the meet, each Alabama gymnast was introduced in the spotlight with a breast cancer survivor to shine light on the cause. Both Alabama and Arkansas put aside their school colors in favor of pink leotards. Alabama is now 27-0 when competing in pink.