ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The No. 10-ranked Alabama gymnastics team finished third at the NCAA Championships Ann Arbor Regional Final Saturday night in the Crisler Center on the Michigan campus with a score 197.225.
"I'm proud of the way our ladies fought to the very end, giving it all they had," UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. "We knew that this new format was going to be extremely challenging and we prepared from the summer on to be able to give it our all two nights in a row, and that's just what we did."
The Crimson Tide's season closed in the round of 16 in this year's new format that shrank the NCAA Championships' semifinal field from 12 to eight. The defending NCAA Champion UCLA Bruins won the regional final with a 198.075, while homestanding and No. 7-ranked Michigan Wolverines took second over Alabama by .050 with a 197.275. Nebraska was fourth with a 196.650.
"Our senior class helped build a tremendous team and set incredibly high standards for our program through their work ethic and leadership," Duckworth said. "They have every reason to hold their heads up high as their gymnastics careers come to a close. As for our team and amazing coaching and support staff, this outcome does not define us, it will only make us better and grow in life. The journey, the relationships and the character they have built will last a lifetime. Our team may have not had the outcome we worked for but they will forever be tremendous ambassadors of our program and our University, representing both with integrity, class and respect."
On the strength of her performance during round two of the regional, senior Abby Armbrecht will represent Alabama at the NCAA Championships on the floor exercise on April 19 in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Alabama battled all the way to the end on Saturday, scoring a 49.425 on the balance beam, closing out the night with a 9.900 from Armbrecht, a career-best 9.925 from freshman Emily Gaskins and a career-best 9.950 from sophomore Lexi Graber.
"We came in focused on making constant improvement and we carried that through this weekend," Duckworth said. "Our ladies never gave up, they continued to fight against the odds."
The Crimson Tide got things started on the floor exercise with a 49.425, paced by matching 9.9s from seniors Armbrecht and Ariana Guerra and Graber. The Tide's score matched its tally from the day before. Alabama scored a 49.125 on the vault, pushed by matching 9.875s from freshman Shallon Olsen and Guerra. On the uneven bars, the Tide tallied a 49.250 behind a 9.900 from Guerra and a 9.875 Gaskins.
The Crimson Tide also scored a 197.225 to win session one of the regional's second round over the Wolverines to advance to Saturday's regional final. Prior to this season, there were six regionals, where six teams competed one night, with the top-two teams advancing to the NCAA semifinals.