Gymnastics overcomes last-minute changes to defeat North Carolina

Gymnastics overcomes last-minute changes to defeat North Carolina


In every practice this week leading up to tonight’s meet against North Carolina, Ari Guerra was not positioned to go first on floor for Alabama. Although Guerra has led the way on floor for the past five meets, coach Dana Duckworth wanted another gymnast to experience going first for the Crimson Tide. It was Shea Mahoney’s turn to get Alabama’s floor lineup started.

Flash forward to tonight; specifically, to about a minute and a half before Alabama was scheduled to start on floor. Duckworth approached Guerra and told her that she would have to go first. Mahoney had tweaked her ankle in warmups for the event and was unsure if she could compete.

Guerra stepped back into her normal role and delivered a career best 9.925.

“I’ve done this all season and last season and so just knowing and trusting my training that I’ve been working so long and finally fulfilling that tonight was amazing,” Guerra said.

Learning how to adapt to last-minute changes has been a constant theme for Alabama this season.

Guerra and the rest of the Crimson Tide was tested on it tonight. Not only did Alabama pass, it passed with flying colors, posting a season high score in a 197.525-194.975 home victory over North Carolina.

“I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason,” Duckworth said. “I think that all the things we have been presented in every week we have competed has prepared us for the next thing.”

Guerra’s switch from second to first in the floor lineup was only one of several quick changes Duckworth had to make right before or during the meet.

Wynter Childers was scheduled to compete on bars, beam and floor before feeling discomfort in her knee during warmups. Instead she was only able to go on beam. Abby Armbrecht stepped in for her on floor and Kylie Dickson competed in her stead on bars.

Despite all of the lineup alterations, Alabama was not fazed in the slightest. The Crimson Tide turned in its most consistent performance of the year, starting with a 49.275 on vault. Shea Mahoney and Ari Guerra both notched 9.875s on the event.

Alabama built on its strong start, scoring a 49.475 on bars. The rotation was highlighted by 9.9s from Ari Guerra and Lexi Graber, both of which tied their careers highs on bars.

On beam, the Crimson Tide was presented with another switch. Due to dizziness, Armbrecht could not go. Insert freshman Alonza Klopfer, who has only competed on beam two times competitively for Alabama. Like Guerra, she stepped up and delivered a beam routine Duckworth described as “eloquent.” Guerrero hit a 9.925 and Graber added a 9.9 to give Alabama a team total of 49.375.

Juggling a changing floor lineup, Alabama still managed to tie its season high 49.4 on floor behind a 9.925s from Guerra and Guerrero.

With another win, its third straight, Alabama continues to build momentum heading into the home stretch of the season.

“Obviously there is still room for improvement here and there in all those little details,” Guerra said. “So continuing to find that .025 as we always say because it will come down to that, especially at SECs and so I think that’s what we need to continue to push for in the gym and out in the competition floor.”

Next up, the Crimson Tide will travel to Huntsville, Alabama next Friday to take on Auburn for the second time this season.

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