Alabama gymnastics topples Michigan State in season-opener

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By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Grace Brister

No. 7 Alabama gymnastics defeated No. 9 Michigan State 196.975-196.550 in the coaching debut of head coach Ashley Johnston.

For the Crimson Tide, this is the second highest season opening score in program history.

Alabama’s Makarri Doggette shined on the vault with a 9.95 and the Crimson Tide finished strong with a team-score of 49.325. Michigan State managed 49.300 on the vault.

On the uneven bars, Doggette along with teammates Cam Machado and Luisa Blanco scored a 9.90. Alabama registered a team-score of 49.275, while the Spartans finished with a score of 49.075.

Blanco delivered the highest score on the beam with a 9.90 and the Tide finished with a score of 49.125. The Spartans were right behind them with a score of 49.00.

Blanco danced the night away on her floor routine and finished with a score of 9.95. Alabama finished with a 49.250, and Michigan State had a score of 49.175

Alabama’s new head coach, Ashley Johnston said the energy at her alma mater was just as she remembered it from days as a Crimson Tide gymnast.

“It sort of feels like I never left,” Johnston said. “Walking back in there, a lot of people asked me, ‘Are you nervous? What does it feel like?’ and I just kept saying ‘no, I actually feel really calm.’ This feels like home to me. This feels like I’m just walking in for another meet prepared ready.”

Alabama freshman Gabby Gladieaux said that this is something she’s looked forward for a long time.

“Its been my dream since I was eleven-years-old,” Gladieaux said. “To come in and feel the energy of the crowd, and the energy of my best friends beside me, it was quite literally a dream come true.”

This was Doggette’s first time competing in the all-around since freshman year due to injuries, and she said she was happy to be back.

“Obviously, its been a little but frustrating,” Doggette said. “I just had to trust myself and trust (that) my body knew what to do. I knew I could do it if I just put in 110 percent.”

Both Doggette and Gladieaux said that it was special to open the season with a new head coach.

“I think it goes to show the preparation that we’ve been doing every day in the gym,” Gladieaux said. “I think every single one of us goes into the gym with the mindset that we have nothing to lose and I think that really showed tonight.”

“(Coach Johnston) has put in so much work for us and made us such better human beings and gymnasts,” Doggette said. “I think we really wanted to show her how much we appreciate her and how much we love her tonight.”

Alabama will travel to face No. 16 Arkansas on Friday, Jan. 13. The competition is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be carried on SEC Network.


Categories: Alabama, College Sports, Sports