Almost halfway through the regular season, Alabama gymnastics is in the middle of a familiar five-meet stretch.
The Crimson Tide is facing the same teams — LSU, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky — in the exact same order in meets four through eight that it did last season.
Alabama, ranked sixth nationwide, is scheduled to face Arkansas at home on Friday at 5:45 p.m. after getting wins at LSU and against Missouri over the last two weeks.
The score against Missouri, a 197.550, was Alabama’s highest team score since 2017.
Even though the Crimson Tide is scoring so high so early on, both the gymnasts and coach Dana Duckworth believe that the team hasn’t reached its max scoring potential.
“I think we’re just really, really good right now, but we can be really great,” senior Shea Mahoney said. “And so I don’t feel like we’re peaking too early; I feel like we’re on the steady path to get to right where we need to be when it’s time to peak.”
Duckworth said she went around to sorority houses promoting the team on campus before the Power of Pink meet. She said the students were impressed with the road win against LSU, but she also wants to make sure to keep things real with fans about where the team is at this point in the season.
“You have to be careful of pumping up too high because we’re not trying to be unrealistic, but we do have a really dynamic team that shows a lot of heart every single day,” Duckworth said.
Alabama got a road win against Georgia early in the season last year and did earn wins over Missouri and Arkansas, but struggled to score high overall as a team. It took 10 meets last year before Alabama scored at least a 197.000.
Through five meets, Alabama’s team average score is 0.560 higher than last year at this point.
“We did a better job starting out stronger from the beginning,” Duckworth said. “We have a lot of room for improvement on our max scoring potential… I think that they [the gymnasts] have so much passion and excitement, because they also know they have more in the tank.”
The score can increase through more stuck landings, cleaning up technical skills like handstands on bars or leaps on floor, and adding more difficult routines into the lineups.
After dealing with a somewhat frustrating season in her junior year, Mahoney is enjoying the success the team is having so far in her final season.
“Winning isn’t everything, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to win,” Mahoney said. “To be able to have my last season be the most fun, and so far, most successful season, it is a very rewarding feeling.”
Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum this week where it has scored its two highest totals of the season. The Crimson Tide looks to continue to build on those scores at home against Arkansas on Friday night.
Arkansas is coached by one of the youngest head coaches in collegiate athletics, 24-year-old Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber. The Razorbacks are coming off a win and a season-high 196.950.
Last season, Alabama scored a 196.700 against Arkansas and will be hoping for a score higher than that this week.
Mahoney said the team isn’t content with staying where it is now, but the gymnasts are pushing each other to continually improve.
“Nobody’s satisfied with just good, and we’re not afraid to tell each other that,” Mahoney said. “But it all comes from a very loving, caring, place that this team genuinely wants the person next to them to do better than they want themselves to do.”