Reigning at Regionals: Alabama gymnastics wins regionals, heads to NCAAs

Reigning at Regionals: Alabama gymnastics wins regionals, heads to NCAAs

UA Athletics

The Alabama gymnastics team claimed its 30th regional title over the weekend, securing its 33rd consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship. UA Athletics

Kayla Montgomery

In just one night’s work, the Alabama gymnastics team claimed its 30th regional title, secured its 33rd consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship and extended its winning streak over Auburn to 114 meets. Before the final rotation of the Auburn regional even took place, the Crimson Tide clinched its title with a team score of 197.575. With the win, Alabama advances to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, beginning competition April 17.  

“We are so honored to be moving forward to Fort Worth for an opportunity to compete for a national championship,” coach Dana Duckworth said. “It was a complete and total team effort. We focused on one thing at a time. We focused on the word this week: unbreakable. Tonight in the locker room we said, ‘let’s have unbreakable joy, unbreakable belief and unbreakable love’ and I feel like that is exactly what they did, one routine at a time, and it worked out in our favor.”

The Tigers will also advance to the NCAA Championship from the regional meet that consisted of No. 1 seed Alabama, No. 2 seed Auburn, No. 3 seed Minnesota, George Washington, Iowa and Maryland. The Tigers secured the second spot with a team score of 196.9.

“I feel like we did great,” junior Lauren Beers said. “Obviously we had a couple of things here and there that could be better, but as a team, we took it one routine at a time and focused on what we needed to do next. I think that really showed in how we performed tonight.”

The Crimson Tide opened the meet on the uneven bars. Led by a 9.925 from Kaitlyn Clark and a 9.9 from Aja Sims, Alabama posted a 49.35 on the apparatus. On the second rotation of the meet, the Crimson Tide posted a 49.5 on the balance beam, its second highest-score of the season, led by 9.9s from Clark, Keely McNeer and Aja Sims.

After its bye rotation, a pair of 9.9s from Carley Sims and Beers pushed the Crimson Tide to a 49.3 on the floor exercise. In its fifth rotation of the night, Alabama scored a 49.425 on the vault. Although the Crimson Tide was slotted for a bye on the sixth and final rotation, the team clinched its 11th-straight regional before that rotation began.

“The scores were tight tonight for every team, but we just went out there not focused on scores and what’s going on out there and just knowing that we had to do the best gymnastics that we could do,” Beers said. “I think we really did that. We took it one routine at a time and it paid off.”

On the night, the Crimson Tide took the top spot on every apparatus and two of the top three spots in the all-around competition. Mackenzie Brannan’s career-best 9.925 tied Minnesota’s Lindsay Mable for first on the vault, Clark took first place in the uneven bars, Beers secured the top spot on balance beam and Beers and Carley Sims tied Mable at the top spot of the floor exercise. In the all-around competition, Beers took the top spot with a 39.575, while Clark’s 39.550 took third.

“We were all about belief, love and joy tonight, and just that unbreakable bond really held us together,” Aja Sims said. “That’s what we were focusing on and it really showed on the floor.”

Throughout the season, Alabama has adopted the mantra of “protect the legacy,” and Duckworth said Beers, McNeer and Aja Sims embody the work ethic that has allowed the program to continue achieving success.

“I want to brag a little bit,” Duckworth said. “I feel like these three women, and all of them, but these three women, every time they do a routine in the gym, they’re competing for a national championship. That’s the routine they’re doing week in and week out, so I think that’s why the consistency has been there, and I’m very proud of them.”