TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama opened and closed its opening session of the 2021 NCAA Gymnastics Tuscaloosa Regional Championships with huge scores, finishing with a 197.525 to win the session in Coleman Coliseum Friday afternoon. Arkansas was second with a 197.250 with both advancing to Saturday's regional final.
Luisa Blanco scored a 39.800 to post the top all-around score of the session and tie the second highest of her career. Her total included a 10.0 on the balance beam and a 9.975 on the uneven bars. She also tied for the top score on the floor exercise with a 9.925. Makarri Doggette posted the session's top mark on the uneven bars with a 10.000.
The Crimson Tide started out on fire, scoring a 49.500 on the balance beam, anchored by Blanco's perfect 10.0 as well as a 9.900 from Emily Gaskins and 9.875s from Shallon Olsen and Shania Adams.
Alabama scored a 49.325 on the floor exercise, once again led by Blanco (9.925), as well as a 9.900 from Griffin James and a 9.875 from Olsen. Blanco led the Tide to a 49.025 vault rotation with a 9.900.
Tied for second with Iowa and behind Arkansas after three rotations, Alabama exploded on the uneven bars, posting a school- and Coleman Coliseum record 49.675 behind Doggette's 10.000, a 9.975 from Blanco, a 9.950 by Shania Adams and a 9.900 from Emily Gaskins, to shoot to the top of the score sheet.
The Crimson Tide and Razorbacks will be joined in Saturday's regional final by the top-two teams out of tonight's second session, which includes just three teams, Oklahoma, Missouri and Maryland, following Auburn's withdrawal.
Head Coach Dana Duckworth Said
"At the end, I pulled them together and told them 'It doesn't have to be easy, it just has to be possible.' We had a wonderful speaker this year, Timothy Alexander, who said that and it has been a mission of ours. That was really the mindset.
Sophomore Makarri Doggette About Scoring a 10 on the Uneven Bars
"The main thing I focus on is hitting my handstands and doing what I do in the gym. For me to be able to put it together with my team behind me made it that much more special. All of us have obviously been wanting that perfect 10 for a long time, so for that dream to come true it was just so surreal. As soon as I hit, I saw my teammates behind me and that made it so special because it was all for them."
Junior Emily Gaskins on Going in the All-Around
"I got to step in today in the all-around which was super cool for me. I've been training and I'm there for my team so when they needed me it was my turn to step in and do my job for them and that, just looking around at my teammates, really made me want to go do what I do every day in practice for them. Everything I did tonight was for my team."
Sophomore Luisa Blanco on Scoring a 10 on the Balance Beam
"It is definitely something that is surreal. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always dreamed of that perfect 10 and even though it felt great, it was the fact that we hit those routines in practice constantly. Before I went on the beam we had been talking about poise and confidence and that's what makes us competitively great, and I think I finally put all the pieces together and when I stuck that landing. I was like 'Yeah, I got it.'"
Inside the Scoresheet
- The Tide's 49.675 on the uneven bars is the highest score on the event in program history
- Luisa Blanco posted a 39.800 to win the all-around, marking her third score of 39.800-or-better
- Blanco is the only Alabama gymnast to post three 39.800-or-better all-around scores in their career and the only gymnast in the country with three-or-more this season
- Alabama's 49.500 on the balance beam is its second-highest of the season
- Luisa Blanco's and Makarri Doggette's perfect 10.0s marked the first time since 2005 that the Tide had two 10.0s in the same meet
- The Crimson Tide's last 10.0 before Blanco's came from Kiana Winston on the floor exercise on Feb. 3, 2017
- Alabama's last 10.0 on the uneven bars came from Andreé Pickens on Feb. 10, 2002 and its last balance beam 10.0 came from Kaitlyn Clark on March 14, 2014
- Makarri Doggette (10.000) and Luisa Blanco (9.975) set new career-highs on the uneven bars, with Shania Adams (9.950) matching her career-high and Emily Gaskins (9.900) setting a new season-high
- Emily Gaskins competed in the all-around for the first time since 2019, scoring a career-best 39.450
- Blanco's 39.800 in the all-around marked her sixth-straight win, with 21 out of her last 24 routines scoring 9.9-or-higher
- Blanco leads the Tide with 20 event titles so far this season, with seven on the balance beam, five in the all-around, three each on the vault and uneven bars and two on floor exercise
- Sania Mitchell's 9.725 on the vault marked her first time performing a vault in the competitive lineup for the Tide
- The Regional Finals will take place Saturday, April 3 at 7 p.m., with the top two teams from each of Friday's semifinals advancing to the final
- The top two-teams from Saturday will advance to the NCAA National Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 16-17