Gymnastics’ freshmen shine in first home meet, team falls to No. 1 Oklahoma

CW / Hannah Saad

Katie Windham, @ktwindham5, Staff Reporter

The score wasn’t high enough to beat the near-perfection from top-ranked Oklahoma, but highlighted by the performances of three freshmen, Alabama gymnastics posted its highest overall score since 2018.

The Sooners beat the Crimson Tide 198.250-197.400 in Coleman Coliseum Friday night. Across three different events and seven routines, the lowest score put out by the freshmen trio of Luisa Blanco, Ella Burgess and Makarri Doggette was a 9.85.

“The freshman class has a level of athleticism that can win a national championship,” coach Dana Duckworth said. “And I think what you see is that they have a lot of confidence in the way that they compete and move.”

Earlier this week, Doggette said she’s been dreaming of competing in Coleman Coliseum. In her first career home meet, Doggette scored a 9.9 or better on bars, beam and the floor exercise.

“I was so excited just being out there for the first time,” Doggette said. “It was something that I’ve dreamed about for my whole life.”

With a 9.925 on beam, Blanco had the team’s highest beam score for the second week in a row.

“I know the beam, and I kind of just shut everything out, and I concentrate on just what I’m doing,” Blanco said.

Alabama’s beam score of 49.400 was its highest beam score since March 2018.

Duckworth said there were amazing moments for her team all night long and she was pleased with the way they started and finished. In only the second meet of the season, Alabama was able to score above a 197. It took the Crimson Tide nine meets to reach the 197 threshold last year.

“We have a system and a mentality from the summer that we knew we needed to start stronger,” Duckworth said. “So now the key is, can you maintain this kind of strength and sustain it all the way to April?”

Alabama will look to sustain the momentum as it travels to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the Metroplex Challenge against Oklahoma, Georgia and Denver on January 25.

“I’m looking forward to looking at what we have done and how we can get better because this team is awesome,” Duckworth said.