Alabama gymnastics advances to 34th consecutive NCAA championship
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - For the 34th year in a row, the Alabama gymnastics team advances to the NCAA Championships after winning its NCAA-best 31st regional championship Saturday in Coleman Coliseum with a score of 197.125 in front of a vocal crowd of 10,116 fans.
“The energy in the arena was electric,” UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. “Our ladies could feel it. It was probably one of the best experiences this season with the way that you could feel their love and their energy.”
The Cal Bears earned the second national championship berth out of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional with a score of 195.925. The remaining four teams in the Tuscaloosa regional included Boise State (195.750), Kentucky (195.725), West Virginia (194.250) and Bowling Green (193.850).
“The goal was to qualify for the national championships,” Duckworth said. “Of course we wanted to win - that’s always what we want to do - but first or second is what it took to qualify, so that was the focus. We did what we set out to do.”
In addition to being the Tide's NCAA-record 31st regional title, it is also the Tide's 12th in a row, the longest streak in program history.
Alabama posted the highest team score on three of the four events, and was second on the fourth, balance beam, by .025. In her last competition in Coleman Coliseum, senior Lauren Beers won the floor exercise with a 9.950 and was second on the vault with a 9.875. Sophomore Mackenzie Brannan won the uneven bars with a 9.900.
The Tide used a 49.225 on the vault to close out the meet behind 9.9875s from Beers and freshman Jenna Bresette. Alabama started the meet on the uneven bars, with junior Keely McNeer posting a 9.875 in the leadoff spot. Sophomores Kiana Winston and Mackenzie Brannan closed out the rotation going 9.875 and 9.900, respectively, pushing Alabama to a 49.275 team score.
On the balance beam, the Tide went five-for-five after its leadoff fell, scoring a 49.150. Junior Aja Sims led the Tide on the beam with a 9.875. Alabama went to its seniors for big scores on the floor exercise with Beers posting a 9.95 in the fifth spot and Carley Sims going 9.9 in the anchor position, pacing the Tide to the highest rotation score of the day, a 49.475.