The Alabama gymnastics team opened the season with a quad meet victory in front of an energetic home crowd at Coleman Coliseum on Friday night.
The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 6 in the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women preseason poll, scored a 194.750 to hold off runner-up Northern Illinois University, 193.325. Temple finished with 191.925 and Southeast Missouri with 187.80.
“I think that amongst some challenges, some falls, some very uncharacteristic things that we certainly haven’t seen in practice, what I see is an unbelievable team with potential,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said. “I see a team with greatness and I cannot wait for them to get back out here next week and just work on what we did today.”
Freshman Emily Gaskins led Alabama on the uneven bars in her debut with a 9.875 – the highest score from the meet. Fellow Alabama freshman Shallon Olsen also had a 9.875 to win the vault.
“It was amazing. The energy from the team and the coaches and the fans really carried you along and just keeps that energy up at a high level no matter what is going on,” Gaskins said. “We worked so hard to stay in the moment, and I think we did an amazing job with that and I think we did a great job at being with our teammates wherever they were and I had a lot of fun.”
Alabama’s Lexi Graber was the individual winner on the beam with a 9.750 and the floor with a 9.825. She won the all-around with a score of 39.125.
The Crimson Tide scored a 49.075 on the vault, a 49.1 on the bars, a 47.7 on the beam and a 48.875 on the floor. After some mishaps on the beam, senior Abby Armbrecht stepped up with a 9.725 to keep Alabama in contention, which was followed up by Graber’s winning performance.
“I was definitely a little bit nervous knowing there were a few mistakes before me, but I just told myself I do this in practice all the time and this is what we train for,” Armbrecht said. “Dana always says butterflies mean something great is about to happen, so I just try to really believe that and trust my training.”
Alabama hosts another quad meet on Friday, Jan. 11 with Michigan, Denver and Bowling Green State University at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Joey Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0223