College gymnastics: No. 6 Alabama upsets SEC rival No. 3 Florida
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In front of 14,423 fans decked out in pink for the Crimson Tide's annual Power of Pink meet, the No. 6 ranked Alabama gymnastics team put together its best meet of the season, upsetting No. 3 Florida, 197.825-197.425.
"We needed that," UA head coach Dana Duckworth said after the meet. "I could not be prouder of the amazing amount of team work our ladies showed tonight."
Prior to the meet, each Alabama gymnast was introduced in the spotlight with a breast cancer survivor, and in some cases two survivors, to highlight the ongoing fight against breast cancer championed by the Power of Pink, which was started by former gymnastics coach and Alabama legend Sarah Patterson in 2004.
"It felt really good to go out there and do my gymnastics for someone else," junior Kiana Winston said following a career night. "I didn't know how well I was doing, I was going out there, having fun and keeping a smile on my face."
The meet remained tight throughout, with Alabama carrying a slight .075 lead into the final rotation with the Tide going to the floor exercise and the Gators headed to the balance beam.
"The ladies were comfortable and relaxed," Duckworth said. "They did what they needed to do. Were we perfect? No, and we talked about that, telling them, 'don't worry about perfect, worry about staying present.' They went from one routine to the next, mistake or not they moved forward and did what we had been asking them to do all season long."
With the Gators producing a strong 49.300 on the beam, Alabama caught fire on the floor exercise for the second meet in a row, producing a season-best 49.625 to put the meet away.
Winston brought the crowd roaring to its feet with a perfect 10, the first of her career and just the third on the floor exercise in the nation this season. Senior Aja Sims closed out the night and the Gators with a 9.95 in the anchor spot on floor. Freshman Maddie Desch added a 9.925 and junior Nickie Guerrero a 9.9 to pace Alabama to the second-highest floor total in the nation this season.
"Kianna does it all the time in practice," senior Amanda Jetter said. "She does 10.0 floor routines all the time in practice, so we're kind of used to it. It's exciting that she finally was rewarded for it because she deserves every bit that she gets. She's such a hard worker, and she comes in with a smile on her face every day. Even though I'm a senior, I look up to Kiana because of her hard work and dedication."
Alabama opened the night with a 49.375 on the vault, tying its season-best score. The Tide was paced on vault by a 9.925 from Guerrero and matching 9.875s from sophomore Abby Armbrecht and senior Katie Bailey.
Less than a week after struggling on the uneven bars against Auburn, Alabama posted a season-best 49.400 on the event, led by a 9.95 from Winston, a 9.925 from Bailey and a 9.9 from Jetter. It was Winston's sixth 9.95 of the season.
The Tide fought to a 49.425 on the balance beam, paced by 9.9s from senior Aja Sims and Winston and 9.95 in the anchor spot by Guerrero.
Winston won the all-around with a career-best 39.700, the third highest total in the nation this season. The junior's 10.0 won the floor exercise while her 9.95 won the uneven bars. Guerrero won the balance beam with a 9.95 and the vault with a 9.925.
Alabama returns to the road next weekend, traveling to Lexington to take on No. 10 Kentucky on Friday, February 10 at 6 p.m. CT.