Alabama Gymnasts Score Back-to-Back 10’s Against LSU
No. 9 Alabama hosted the No. 8 LSU Tigers Friday night in Coleman Coliseum. The Tigers have two top-10 all-around gymnasts in Haleigh Bryant and Aleah Finnegan, both of whom helped LSU get the victory over the Crimson Tide.
Bama didn't get off to its best start on vault with only two gymnasts scoring a 9.9 or higher. Makarri Doggette led off with a 9.850 followed by Lilly Hudson's 9.600. Hudson went for the stuck landing but had too much power and had to step out of bounds. Shallon Olsen performed a double-twisting yurchenko and stuck the landing which led to her second consecutive score of 9.900+. Jordyn Paradise scored a 9.800 followed by Luisa Blanco's 9.850. Freshman Gabby Gladieux performed a nearly perfect yurchenko-full which is a 9.950 start value vault. She scored a career-best 9.925 on the event. The Crimson Tide took its only lead of the meet after the first rotation. Alabama led 49.325 over LSU (49.175).
Alabama's all-arounders, Blanco and Hudson, scored uncharacteristically low on the uneven bars. Hudson's average on bars is a 9.83 while Blanco is ranked 17th in the country with an average of 9.90. Hudson only scored a 9.775 and Blanco had something happen in her routine which scored a 9.425. Bama dropped Blanco's score but had to count two 9.775's which hurt the team in the long run. The Crimson Tide trailed 98.650-98.850 at the halfway point of the meet.
Bama came back strong in the third rotation. Ella Burgess led off with an impressive 9.925. Freshman Rachel Rybicki's 9.900 drew boo's from the crowd as one judge gave her a perfect 10.0 and the other judge gave her a 9.800. Scoring discrepancies were a common theme this meet as there were multiple gymnasts who had very different scores from both judges. Mati Waligora scored a 9.875 followed by Gabby Gladieux's 9.850. Hudson scored a perfect 10 for the first time in her career. Blanco anchored the lineup and scored a perfect 10 as well. This was the first time in program history that two gymnasts scored 10's on the balance beam. Alabama scored a season-best 49.700 on the event, but it wasn't enough to take the lead over the Tigers.
Waligora led the Crimson Tide off with a 9.900. Olsen scored a 9.750. Shania Adams' score elicited boos from the crowd as one judge gave her a 9.90 and the other gave her a 9.750. Gymnastics is a very subjective sport. Adams' 9.825 is a prime example of just how important stuck landings, perfect leaps and jumps, and good technique is in gymnastics. Alabama head coach Ashley Johnston said the team needs perform as close to perfect as possible so the judges have nothing to take away.
"Scoring is something that is outside of our control," Johnston said. "While we may have questions about it, we ultimately have to work to be undeniable. If there's a score score that we weren't as please with, it means that we left something out there on the table."
Bama gymnasts followed Adams' 9.825 with three straight scores of 9.9 or better. Gladieux scored a 9.925. Hudson followed that up with a 9.950 and Blanco scored a 9.975 which fans were unhappy with because they thought she deserved a 10.
Alabama students made an impact on tonight's meet as the student section was at capacity for the third straight home meet. Hudson and Doggette both said the energy the crowd gave them was "everything."
"For these close meets, that's (the energy) vital," Hudson said. "It just makes it so fun, like I had a smile on my face the whole time."
Crimson Tide fans get one last opportunity to pack out Coleman Coliseum this year on March 10th as Alabama hosts Boise State for senior night. The meet will air on the SEC Network+ at 7 p.m.
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