Death, taxes, and hating Georgia Gymnastics with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Life’s immutable truths.
While the heat has turned down to a low simmer these days, Alabama and Georgia gymnastics simply do not get along. Different styles, different demeanor, different athletes. They haven’t gotten along for thirty years. And, upon my death bed, I hope that Sarah Patterson is still blessing the heart of the villainous Suzanne Yoculan. Every win over the ‘Dawgs sustains me in the most spiteful of ways; my black heart races if it’s a beatdown.
And, on a rare Saturday meet, Alabama rewarded all of that animus by destroying their archrival 197.450 to 196.05. That would come close to a season-high for the Tide. For the Dawgs, it was almost a season-low.
Georgia got in trouble in the first two routines with bars and vault. UGA was ranked 18th in the bars, by far its worst event of the squad. And you could see why. The Bulldogs had failed to crack anything above a 9.835 before taking a fall — which they did. Then, needing a rally, they took another fall and had to count it. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide was starting off fairly good on the vault, finishing with a 49.325 — it would uncharacteristically be the second-best score of the night for ‘Bama, as the Tide is more of a bars/floor team. There weren’t many head-turners, but Alabama did what it needed to. Shallon Olsen and Lexi Graber, the only two athletes with a 10.0 start value, unsurprisingly paced the Crimson Tide.
The uneven bars would be more of the same: solid, if not jaw-dropping — doing what it needed to do to win, with Shea Mahoney and Wynter Childers leading the way to a 49.225 final score. Meanwhile the Bulldogs were losing more ground on the vault. They avoided catastrophe, but finished with a 49.125. After two rotations, UGA was down by almost a full point, with Beam still ahead, and facing Alabama’s formidable floor routine.
Alabama’s Emily Gaskins did take a fall on the beam, because that’s sort of our MO. But, it would not prove to be disastrous. The other five competitors stay on the apparatus. Dynamic Freshman Luisa Blanco paced all Tide starters with a 9.90, and was followed by Shallon Olsen’s 9.850 and similarly-awesome freshman Markarri Doggette, also with a 9.850. Georgia, meanwhile, had a solid floor at 49.350.
But, going into the uneven bars, with Alabama closing it out on their best event, the only question would be how bad of a thumping it would be. “Fairly substantial” is the answer. Shallon Olsen had a subpar routine for her, but everyone else killed it — posting 9.9s or better. To a trio of upperclassmen — Shea Mahoney, Maddie Desch, and Lexi Graber — the promising duo of Blanco and Doggette also added 9.925s. Alabama finished with a 49.600. That was a season-high. In fact, it was the highest floor score in almost three calendar years. Georgia had a very competent 49.300 on the Beam, but that was in no way sufficient to make up over a point.
As if the final score wasn’t enough, and to make it even better, Lexi Graber had perhaps her most consistent meet of the season, and claimed her first all-around title.
Dana Duckworth has simply owned the Bulldogs, just as Alabama has stomped Georgia consistently for the past decade.
With the win, Dana Duckworth improved to 15-1 against Georgia, including a 7-0 mark in regular-season meetings. Since 2010, the Crimson Tide is 27-2 against the Bulldogs in all meetings and 6-0 in Tuscaloosa.
While the meet closes out the No. 8 Crimson Tide’s home slate, they have one more task to end the regular season — a rematch against Auburn in the Elevate the Stage event. The Tide dropped a pretty lame one in Auburn to open the season, and if there’s any one they’d want back, it’s that one. It was a season-low for the Tide. But, given the season-long trajectory of both squads, there is no reason that it can’t be avenged to end the year.
So, feel free to pour forth your Gym Dawg hatred below. Rejoice and Roll Tide!