Hannah Saad | @hannah_saad21
As the Power of Pink meet approaches, so does an inevitable shift in conference standings for No. 6 Alabama gymnastics and the opposing No. 2 LSU Tigers. But the meet will also present an opportunity to advocate for breast cancer awareness.
“In the Power of Pink meet we are always competing for something bigger than ourselves,” senior Lexi Graber said.
Both the Crimson Tide and Tigers hold a 4-1 record, tying them for second place in the conference. The teams are coming off of its first loss of the season despite having scored season-highs. But Alabama’s season-high of 197 against Georgia would be crushed by the score LSU put up in its loss to top-ranked Florida: 198.050.
“We’re going against a top-notch team this weekend,” UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. “I want our ladies to be confident and really have faith that they can do it [win].”
A score of 198 requires an average score 9.9 score per competitor, which is a slight wobble, slide or step back per routine. In last week’s meet against Georgia, less than half of Alabama’s routines scored a 9.9, and the team had to count three scores in the 9.7’s or lower. If Alabama wants to remain within striking distance against LSU it must not count a score lower than 9.825.
“Going into practice and focusing on every half tenth is going to be huge,” Graber said.
However, if LSU were to only score its season average of 197.325, Alabama would still have a sizable hill to climb as its season high is still three-tenths lower. The chances of LSU having a bad rotation are slim, as the Tigers rank in the top 5 on all four apparatuses. In contrast, Alabama’s highest scoring event is the uneven bars, where the team ranks sixth nationally. While a respectable position, it is still behind LSU’s third place ranking in the event.
A positive statistic for Crimson Tide fans to look at heading into the meet is Alabama is 16-1 in “Power of Pink” meets, its only loss coming to Florida back in 2019, and Duckworth managed a victory over LSU last year in Baton Rouge.
Alabama has proven its ability to score high on both the uneven bars and balance beam, each with season-highs of 49.425, but the team must do the same in the vault and floor exercises. On both events, Alabama averages lower than 49.200, while LSU averages north of 49.300 and these events can be the distinct difference in the meet.
The Southeastern Conference gymnastics regular season is officially past the halfway point and Alabama has yet to go a meet without witnessing a fall. Graber said that it is important for Alabama gymnasts to trust in their training in order to end the meet with its best possible outcome.
“We have put in enough work in the preseason and have done the routines, so we are trusting in our training and rolling with it,” Graber said.
First vault between Alabama and LSU is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.