Alabama gymnastics healthy, ready for NCAA Regional Championships

Alabama Gym Regional Preview Pic 20230

By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Juliet Brown

Alabama gymnastics tied its second-best performance of the year at the SEC Championships its last time out, scoring a 197.925.  The team hopes to keep the momentum rolling as it travels to Norman, OK to compete in the regionals meet on Thursday. No. 8 Alabama joins No. 9 Kentucky, Illinois, and Iowa in the first session.

The Crimson Tide lost to the Wildcats in the regular season but beat them at the SEC Championship meet.  Alabama has scored a 197+ in seven of its eleven meets.  Kentucky has scored at least a 197 in 10 of its 11 meets. Illinois went 10-10 overall this season and has yet to eclipse the 197 mark.  The Fighting Illlini finished in fifth place at the Big Ten Championship meet. Iowa got as high as 15 in the polls but ended the regular season at 24 before dropping out of the top 25. The Hawkeyes finished in eighth place at the Big Ten Championship meet.  Speculation around the regionals meet projects Alabama and Kentucky moving onto the second round of regionals where the two teams will compete against the winners of the Oklahoma, Ohio State, Arkansas, and either NC State or Ball State.

Alabama’s best performances of the year so far have come during quad meets, so if history repeats itself, the Crimson Tide have a good shot at making it to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, TX in a couple weeks. Alabama head coach Ashley Johnston says staying in the “Bama Bubble” will be crucial in having another strong quad meet performance.

“It’s gonna be really important for us to stay locked in, for us to focus on our Bama Bubble, and doing what we can in every moment and not taking a second for granted,” Johnston said.

The Crimson Tide’s team features a healthy mix of experienced gymnasts as well as some talented underclassmen. Luisa Blanco, Makarri Doggette, and Shallon Olsen are a few of the senior leaders that will play a critical role in determining how far the team makes it into the post season. Doggette’s battled some injuries this season but having a couple weeks off from competition helped get her body back to full health.  Having her back in the uneven bars lineup should be huge for a bars team that ranks 12th in the nation. Blanco’s been a consistent performer in the all-around, ranking 10th overall, and Olsen’s been a rock in the vault lineup.

Freshman Gabby Gladieux and sophomore Lilly Hudson lead the group of underclassmen.  Gladieux competed on vault, beam, and floor in her freshman season and was nothing less than amazing. She scored a 9.9+ in nine of the eleven floor routines she performed. She’s also been a consistent competitor on Alabama’s eighth-ranked beam line up. The freshman performed a perfect yurchenko-full at the SEC Championships and earned a 9.950 from all four judges. Hudson is ranked 22nd in the all-around. She’s been one of the most consistent gymnasts on the team this season.

Alabama will need to be on its A-game at regionals to continue its season. Luckily, the team seems to rise up to the challenge in big moments.

“This team has proved time and time again that they know how to step in big moments against the toughest competition, and we’ve been really strategic about how we are pacing this group to be able to peak at the right time,” Johnston said.

The Crimson Tide competes at 2 p.m. CT on Thursday. The meet will air on ESPN+.

Categories: Alabama, College Sports, Sports