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What Alabama Gymnastics Gained in Win over Auburn

Bama Central on FanNation 2/6/2023 Katie Windham
© Provided by Bama Central on FanNation

Ashley Johnston called Friday's meet a breakthrough for her team.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Looking at the final score and the reactions it led to both inside Coleman Coliseum and on social media, it is evident that Alabama gymnastics beating Auburn Friday night was a big moment for a team and program that has experienced a lot of ups and downs in the last decade. 

For head coach Ashley Johnston, the Crimson Tide's come from behind performance and strong finish signified something greater for what she's hoping this team can accomplish this season.

"I think what we gained from Friday night was that self-belief that in the most crucial moments, in the big moments, they know how to turn it on," Johnston said. "They know how to step into that pressure and really thrive. I think it was a big breakthrough for us as a group because we’ve had all the pieces, but we needed to have that opportunity where a meet was super close, and we kind of had a lot at stake. And for them to step into that and just confidently do that, I think we gained a lot from that."

Alabama got off to a rough start on vault and improved slightly on the uneven bars, but still trailed the Tigers through two rotations. With a strong 49.650 on the balance beam, highlighted by a perfect 10 from Luisa Blanco, to cut into Auburn's lead. 

And then on floor, in front of the energetic, sold-out crowd, the Crimson Tide tied a program record with a 49.700 to pull away from Auburn on the way to the 197.850-197.700 win. 

"Whether we won the meet or loss the meet, we still would’ve felt like we won the moment because we were able to come back and have such a strong performance, especially on beam and floor," Johnston said. "I think that was a big moment for this team because we’ve been trying to jump that hurdle of really believing in ourself. And I think the team knew they were capable, they knew they could do it when it counts, but they still had to do it."

Senior Mati Waligora said that Friday night showed the team what they are capable of, but they still know they have more in the tank. For example, even though Alabama had its highest overall score of the season against the Tigers, it was one of its lower vault scores of the season and a significant dip on bars than the season high the week before. If the Crimson Tide can put together all four events in one meet, it is more than capable of putting up a score in the 198 range. It's why Alabama is working on the little details like stuck landings and handstands in the gym this week. 

Next up for the Crimson Tide is a quad meet against Arkansas, Oklahoma and Stanford this Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. A meet like this provides midseason experience of what the format of meets will be like in postseason with four teams competing at once on the elevated podium surface. 

"We’re very excited to be up against some big teams," Waligora said. "It’s a good opportunity to recreate what it’s going to be like in postseason, a good opportunity for the freshmen to get on podium and just get the kinks out.”

See also:

Alabama Comes from Behind with Season Bests on Beam, Floor to Beat Auburn in Power of Pink

Gymnastics Instant Analysis: No. 11 Alabama 197.850, No. 6 Auburn 197.700

Nick Saban Still Got What He Wanted With Alabama's New Coordinators: All Things CW

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