For a competition to be considered a rivalry, both of the participants have to win, making it a back-and-forth affair.
This is not the case with the Alabama-Auburn rivalry from a gymnastics standpoint.
The No. 5 Crimson Tide (3-2, 3-2 SEC) currently boasts a 105-meet winning streak against the No. 15 Tigers, which spans three decades and includes all meetings between the two teams, regular and postseason. The Tide squeezed past the Tigers 196.325-196.250 last season.
Owning an opponent to the magnitude of 105 consecutive victories takes a certain mental focus and commitment to never let up. A driving motivation for these particular gymnasts is not being a part of the team that finally loses to Auburn.
“It definitely motivates us,” Kim Jacobs said. “We want to keep that streak going.”
Like all sports at Alabama, there is a bit of a learning curve to fully grasp the magnitude of the rivalry.
“That’s where I have to depend on the upperclassmen to help,” Head Coach Sarah Patterson said. “You choose from the Bama girls that are from here to help. It takes a while to get it, but once they have witnessed the intensity of a football season or basketball game, then they understand.”
Ashley Sledge is one of those Alabama girls who can speak on the rivalry. Sledge followed the Tide’s gymnastics program as a child and grew to appreciate the competitiveness between the two foes.
“I’ve always been an Alabama fan, and I always will be one,” Sledge said. “Everyone knows in Alabama, you beat Auburn. This is hands down one of the best rivalries in the nation.”
It’s Auburn week, but don’t think Alabama is peeking up at the scoreboard.
“Nope, never,” Ashley Sledge said. “We don’t deviate. If you do that, you’re leaking energy from our bubble.”
Alabama is coming off back-to-back losses against Georgia and Florida, while Auburn is riding in with consecutive wins against Missouri and Arkansas.
As two-time defending national champions, Alabama has been the hunted all season, getting every team’s best shot. But now the Tide is changing the narrative.
“From the beginning of the season, Sarah let us know that every team had the meet against us circled. Everybody is bringing their A game” Sledge said. “We’re coming off a little disappointment against Georgia and Florida, but we’re using that as fuel. We’re going to start circling every meet.”
The meet begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.
Leading in today’s Crimson White: