No. 6 Alabama gymnastics loses first meet of the season, falling to No. 3 Kentucky at home

Alabama gymnastics' dreams of an undefeated season came to an end on Friday night, as the Crimson Tide lost at home to the Kentucky Wildcats 197.600-196.975

The score was even after the first rotation, as the No. 6 Tide (5-1-1, 2-1-1 SEC) and No. 3 Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) scored 49.225 on the vault and bars, respectively. An uncharacteristic night for Alabama's uneven bars rotation gave Kentucky the lead halfway through, and the Wildcats stretched that lead with some high-scoring floor routines (including a perfect 10) while Alabama struggled on the balance beam.

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By the time the meet reached its final rotation, Kentucky seemed to have the victory locked up. Alabama trailed 148.175-147.575, a full six-tenths difference that would prove insurmountable. The Tide was able to close the gap slightly with their turn on the floor, but it was too little, too late. Alabama finished with a new season-low score, failing to crack 197 for the first time this year.

"It's a great learning experience for everybody, especially our underclassmen who have never experienced this before," senior Makarri Doggette said of the loss. "We'll just take it back to the gym. It's only go up from here, we just have to learn and grow, and we're going to do that together like we always do."

Here are some more takeaways from Alabama's first loss of the season:

Alabama gymnastics scores a new season-low on uneven bars

The Crimson Tide's uneven bars rotation survived the pressure of an early fall in Florida last week. Their season-low score of 49.375 was a mark that would only stand for one week, though, as they scored 49.25 this week.

Freshman Chloe LaCoursiere served as the opener, as she has all season, but a slip on her landing led to a personal season-low of 9.75. Shania Adams replaced Mati Waligora, who fell off the bars last week, in the rotation this week, but her 9.725 ended up as the dropped score.

Super-senior duo Doggette and Luisa Blanco managed a 9.85 and 9.875, respectively, while senior Cam Machado scored a team-high 9.9. Both Doggette and Blanco were averaging over a 9.9 on bars coming into the meet, so scoring in the 9.8 range was somewhat out-of-character for the two.

Alabama trailed 98.65-98.475 after the second rotation.

Jan 19, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama gymnast Ella Burgess competes on the balance beam in Coleman Coliseum Friday. Alabama and Arkansas tied with scores of 197.525.
Jan 19, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama gymnast Ella Burgess competes on the balance beam in Coleman Coliseum Friday. Alabama and Arkansas tied with scores of 197.525.

Shania Adams struggles for the Crimson Tide

It was a night to forget for senior Shania Adams.

She started the night as the closer on Alabama's vault rotation but failed to stick her landing, stumbling backward and scoring a 9.5 that ended up being dropped. In the second rotation, Adams scored a 9.725 on the bars that forced Alabama to count LaCoursiere's season-low 9.75.

The cold streak continued on the balance beam for Adams, as she fell off and scored another team-low with a 9.2. Adams' fall forced the Tide to count a less-than-desirable 9.65 by Blanco on the event, as she also suffered a significant stumble but managed to keep herself on the beam.

"Shania is normally a great competitor and is capable of contributing to all four events at a high level," coach Ashley Johnston said. "Tonight was the first night she threw a Yurchenko 1 1/2 on vault, she hasn't done that in a couple of years and one of our goals was to get that out there. She had been training it and warmed it up clean, it just didn't translate to the competition."

Blanco loses all-around for the first time this season

Blanco participated in the all-around against both Missouri and Florida, winning it at both meets with a 39.675 and a 39.7, respectively. She also scored a 39.55 in the season opener at the Super 16 Championships, tying for second at the quad meet in the all-around.

Blanco struggled this week against Kentucky, though, at least by her standards. She tied her season-low on the vault with a 9.875 and set new season-lows on both the uneven bars (9.875) and balance beam (9.65). She did manage to tie her season-high on floor routine with a 9.925, but it wasn't enough to make up for her near-fall on the beam.

Kentucky's Raena Worley took the all-around with a 39.75, which included a perfect 10 for her floor routine. Blanco finished second at 39.325, ahead of Kentucky's Delaynee Rodriguez (39.275).

What's next for Alabama gymnastics?

The Crimson Tide will travel across the state to face No. 15 Auburn on Friday, Feb. 9. It will be Alabama's second meeting with the rival Tigers, as the two teams met at the Super 16 Championships quad meet in Las Vegas to open the season. Alabama won there 197.125-196.6.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama gymnastics loses its first meet of the season to Kentucky