No. 4 Alabama Gymnastics Hosts No. 10 Arkansas in another Top-10 Matchup
In the first eight days of the Alabama gymnastics team’s 2016 season, the Crimson Tide competed in nearly as many meets as it did in all of January 2015. After a west coast trip to face UCLA, Alabama opened its home season last Friday with a win over Missouri, followed by a neutral site meet in Birmingham that resulted in a win over Auburn. To say this season has gotten off to a whirlwind start is an understatement.
“We definitely jumped right into things this season,” UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. “But we had a plan and we’ve been smart in developing our depth and getting everyone some valuable experience as we’ve moved through this first week of the season.”
Things slow down a little this week, with just one meet, at home, but the intensity of the competition remains the same. Arkansas comes in to town this Friday at 6 p.m. CT ranked 10th in the country, marking Alabama’s fourth top-15 opponent of the young season.
“You can never take a night off in the SEC,” Duckworth said. “You have to be ready to go, ready to compete every time out.”
Friday’s meet kicks off a very busy Crimson Tide weekend in Tuscaloosa. Saturday’s home events include a 10 a.m. swimming and diving meet in the Alabama Aquatic Center, a football championship celebration that starts at 11 a.m. in front of Denny Chimes and a 1 p.m. men’s basketball game back in Coleman Coliseum. The weekend closes out at the indoor tennis stadium with a women’s tennis double header on Sunday starting at 10 a.m..
The Alabama-Arkansas meet marks gymnastics’ Academic Achievement Night, during which the Tide will not only celebrate its 3.8 team grade point average, but they will honor local elementary school students who have made the A/B honor roll. The honor roll students received vouchers for two free tickets to Friday’s meet through their schools.
“Academics is at the heart of everything we do here at Alabama,” Duckworth said. “Our ladies work very hard in the classroom to be the best that they can be and it certainly shows. We hope that all the elementary school students who earned a place on the honor roll will join us as we honor their achievements on Friday.”
In the latest national rankings, Alabama is third on the floor exercise, sixth on the balance beam, fifth on the uneven bars and 10th on the vault. Including Alabama and Arkansas, there are six Southeastern Conference teams ranked in the top-10 this week.
Sophomores Kiana Winston and Mackenzie Brannan, who both made their all-around debuts this season, are ranked seventh and ninth, respectively, in the national all-around standings. Brannan is tied for ninth on the vault while junior Katie Bailey is tied for 23rd. Senior Lauren Beers is tied for 12th and junior Keely McNeer is tied for 20th on the balance beam.
Bailey and Winston are tied for 25th nationally on the uneven bars. Junior Amanda Jetter is tied for second, senior Carley Sims and freshman Ariana Guerra are tied for 11th while Bailey and sophomore Nickie Guerrero are tied for 22nd on the floor exercise.
Carley Sims will be held out of competition this week after minor ankle surgery. She is expected to back in the mix in the next couple of weeks.
Tickets are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or online at RollTide.com.