TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 9-ranked Alabama gymnastics team defeated Georgia, 196.525-194.525, Friday night in its home and Southeastern Conference opener in front of 12,081 fans in Coleman Coliseum on a frigid night in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide had to fight its way back from an early deficit to earn the win.
"That was an incredible example of teamwork," UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. "There was adversity, there were certain people not being able to go, someone stepping in and they just kept fighting. There was a great deal of consistency. There was a great deal of confidence. They were attacking. All the things we said we wanted to improve on from last week to this week, I think we really nailed it."
Individually, sophomore Wynter Childers won the all-around, scoring a 39.325, while senior Kiana Winston won uneven bars, the balance beam and the floor exercise. Senior Nickie Guerrero posted Alabama's highest vault score.
Alabama opened the night on the vault, and was paced by Guerrero's 9.9 followed by junior Abby Armbrecht's 9.825. Despite solid scores from four of its gymnasts, the Crimson Tide scored a 48.600 due to a fall and a half point deduction due to a gymnast going before being acknowledged by the judges.
The Tide went right to work climbing out of its early hole, turning in a strong performance on the uneven bars, including a 9.925 from Winston and 9.9s from senior Mackenzie Brannan and junior Ari Guerra. Alabama posted a 4.400 on the bars, pulling to within .075 of Georgia at the halfway point.
On the balance beam, Winston scored her second 9.9 in as many weeks to win the event and push the Tide to a 49.350 team score. Sophomore Maddie Desch and Childers both added 9.875s. Armbrecht scored a 9.85 on the beam after filling in for freshman Lexi Graber, who had to be helped from the mat after her fall on vault.
"I was a little nervous, but I've been training like that every single day in practice," Armbrecht said. "I knew to go in and do what I do. I told Lexi before I went out that I had her back, so I did it for her."
Alabama capped the night with a solid 49.175 on the floor exercise that included a 9.9 from Winston and a 9.850 from Childers to close out the Bulldogs.
"It was about having teamwork," Winston said after the meet. "We know we have each other's backs because we practice it in the gym every day."
Alabama will travel to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers on Friday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. CT. The conference matchup will be broadcasted live on SEC Network at 7:30 p.m. CT.