Gymnastics fights to win 12th annual Power of Pink meetBy Terrin Waack | 02/07/2016 3:40pm
| CW Shelby Akin
Senior Lauren Beers is the leader of the Alabama gymnastics team, and on Friday night during No. 4 Alabama’s 196.775 to 195.525 win over No. 25 Kentucky, she was the only gymnast to take a fall on the balance beam, but she didn’t let it affect her. She got right back up, finished her routine and didn’t show any negative emotions towards her teammates afterwards.
Beers scored a 9.325.
“We have a rule: it doesn’t show on your face,” junior Keely McNeer said.
Before Friday came along, the Crimson Tide visited a local elementary school to talk about women in sports. One of the key things the team discussed was, as an athlete, not being afraid to fail, and if failure comes along, take it, learn from it and grow.
Instead of getting down on oneself, the team preached going into the gym planning to work hard and work smart to simply move forward and get better.
“I feel like that’s exactly what Lauren [Beers] will do,” coach Dana Duckworth said. “No one is more disappointed in herself than Lauren [Beers], but we love her, and we know how to build her up.”
But Beers is a leader. Although she may have her own moment later, McNeer said Beers was very positive and uplifting throughout the night. The team fed off her energy, despite her performance, and McNeer said that is why Beers is such a leader.
It’s all about having each other’s backs for the Alabama gymnasts.
“Meet after meet, Lauren [Beers] does that for everyone, she does it time after time,” junior Katie Bailey said.
Beers started off hot, setting a new season-best on the vault with a 9.950. Then slowly but surely, her fire simmered down.
After her performance on the beam, one of her transitions on the uneven bars faltered, leaving Beers standing on her own two feet. Seconds later, she chalked up her hands and went back at it, finishing with a 9.125.
Beers was the anchor performer for Alabama’s final rotation on the floor exercise. She would have finished with 9.800 had she not stepped out of bounds during one of her tumbling passes, resulting in a final score of 9.700.
“I think Lauren [Beers] fought with all she had,” McNeer said. “It was just one of those nights.”
Through it all, Beers did not let her mistakes get to her nor bring the team down. Duckworth said the team’s word of the week was fight, and Beers exemplified that.
But Beers wasn’t the only fighter in attendance.
Friday night marked Alabama’s 12th Power of Pink meet, where it recognized 19 breast cancer survivors during introductions.
“Tonight was for them, and no matter what we do or how we perform, we get to choose our fight,” McNeer said. “They didn’t get to choose theirs.”
Every time Alabama has worn its pink leotards, it’s finished with a win. Friday was no different, giving the Crimson Tide a 23-0 record.
The gymnasts weren’t competing for themselves. They were competing for the breast cancer survivors in the stands, for the women who Bailey felt they built a connection with during the time before introductions.
“To be able to give back to the people that have lost the battle, that have won the battle and that are fighting the battle, it makes it just so much bigger than yourself,” Duckworth said.
The Crimson Tide had a gymnast place first in every event. Beers placed first on the vault with her 9.950. Sophomore Mackenzie Brannan came in first on the bars with a 9.925, a new season-best. Then, McNeer had a three-way tie on the beam with a 9.875, accompanied by Bailey and Kentucky’s Sidney Dukes. Finally, junior Aja Sims also had a three-way tie on the floor with junior Mackenzie Valentin and sophomore Kiana Winston, all scoring a 9.850.
Bailey finished with a 39.475, taking first among the all-around performers. She also set a new season-best on the beam with a 9.875.
Alabama didn’t set any new high scores as team, but it did tie its season-best on the bars with a 49.325. The only category Kentucky scored higher on was the beam with a 49.025, topping Alabama’s 49.000. The Crimson Tide finished with a 49.375 on the vault and 49.075 on the floor.
“As we climb through the mountains and valleys of the season, I think that it’s all [key] for us to peak at the right time,” Duckworth said.