LIVE BLOG: Alabama at No. 16 Auburn

It’s already Iron Bowl time, and what has at various points been one of the most interesting, one of the feistiest and one of the most one-sided rivalries in the sport currently looks like the most chaotic. To put it bluntly, we have no clue yet how good either of these teams are, and we might not learn today either.

Alabama has a monster freshman class, but with some lurking injuries and the fact that two of those freshmen have only been in Tuscaloosa for a few weeks, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Much-anticipated newcomer Makarri Doggette likely won’t vault today due to a minor ankle concern, but a strong performance on her other three events would be an encouraging sign that the stumbling, unsatisfying Alabama of recent seasons is on an upward trajectory again.

Meanwhile, Auburn has a massive peak but as always, is prone to revert to its natural state of talented, beautiful, chaotic disaster. Last week’s lineups were perplexing to say the least, but this week expect Drew Watson to step back into the all around alongside promising freshman Cassie Stevens. No promises on any of that, but as always, if the cards fall right, this team could pretty much get a 198. It’s Auburn, what else can you say?

Auburn has been encouraging fans who would be in the arena tonight to wear orange, and they’ve listened. The arena looks so great from a wide angle.

Rotation 1: Auburn vault, Alabama bars

Sheppard (Aub): I’m not sure why she’s vaulting. Yurchenko arabian, grand scale dive forward. Kept it on her feet but not a great start. 9.6

Dickson (Ala): Bail, toe to Tkachev, FTDB dismount stuck. Bits of form but right on the handstands. 9.825

Glenn (Aub): Yurchenko full nothing special with a hop. 9.725

Childers (Ala): Toe to Maloney to bail, foot flickers. Shy on a high bar handstand, blind to half in double back messy. 9.8

Day (Aub): For some reason I had to watch a Dr. Pepper commercial and it cut back in just in time to see her celebrate after a decent Yurchenko one and a half with a hop. 9.825

Graber (Ala): Gienger with a little leg split, toe on to bail, slight issue while standing on the low bar. FTDB dismount with serious leg form. 9.75

Stevens (Aub): One and a half, crooked on the table and keeps going sideways but stays on the mat with a medium hop. 9.75

Givens (Ala): Blind to Jaeger, messy legs. Bail clean, hitting handstands, double lay with a step back. 9.8

Watson (Aub): One and a half BIG with slightly soft knees but a near stick. 9.9

Mahoney (Ala): Toe on to bail, beautiful Tkachev, FTDB BEAUTIFUL with a little step back. Such a contrast from messy legs on most of the other dismounts we’ve seen today. 9.875

Gobourne (Aub): The national champ up in the anchor, big leg split on the table, step forward. It’s her 20th birthday! Layout so clean in the air. 9.875

Doggette (Ala): Tkachev with COUNTERROTATION to Pak, I love it. Double lay with the tiniest step. 9.875 is honestly low.

After 1: Alabama 49.175 – Auburn 49.075

This is close and awesome and I love it already. It just feels like a good meet.

Rotation 2: Alabama vault, Auburn bars

Mahoney (Ala): Clean and pretty Yurchenko full, small hop back.

Stevens (Aub): Toe on to Ray, bail looked a touch off but we can’t see anything from this angle. Short on a handstand, double lay secure landing, small hop. 9.7

Desch (Ala): Soft onto the table and less amplitude but similar landing to Mahoney on her FTY. 9.7

Sabados (Aub): Ray really nice, toe on to bail, slightly off on a handstand, double lay looks deep and she has to take a step forward. 9.7

Blanco (Ala): Beauty of a FTY, best landing of the group and then the sweetest most reserved little high five to I think Roberts. 9.8

Brusch (Aub): Maloney to bail, double lay airy and beautiful with a midsize hop back. Very underrated coming in as a freshman and doing great. 9.825

Burgess (Ala): FTY, a touch pikier than the others but big too, tiny hop back. 9.825

Watson (Aub): Ray, missed a handstand badly, toe on to bail and hangs out in the handstand for a sec. Arches a handstand and just keeps going, FTDB and very close to stick. 9.75

Graber (Ala): Big airy one and a half, sizable hop forward. 9.85

Day (Aub): Toe to toe blind to Jaeger to overshoot, so lovely. I love this routine. Shy on a handstand, double arabian with a quick step. 9.875

Olsen (Ala): For some reason I got a Dr. Pepper ad instead of her vault but reaction looks happy. 9.8

Gobourne (Aub): Half turn to Tkachev to Pak, FTDB stuck with pretty good leg form. 9.925!

After 2: Alabama 98.200 – Auburn 98.150

It’s so close! It’s so fun! So many pretty routines!

Rotation 3: Auburn beam, Alabama floor

Slappey (Aub): BHS LOSO, a touch of leg form. Full turn, switch switch half beat, cat leap side aerial back full with leg split and a step back. Emphatic start. 9.8

Mahoney (Ala): Might have missed a pass due to stream funkiness, front full front lay, double pike beautifully landed. Lovely routine. 9.825

Brusch (Aub): Got the full turn off the top, front aerial beat jump. BHS LOSO, funky landing and a check but stayed on. Switch back tuck, short of split. BHS 3/2 twist dismount. 9.7

James (Ala): Full in, step back and loses the front foot a touch but not badly. Switch half wolf full missing the split, front lay to Rudi step forward. Two-pass routine! Nice work for her debut in the main lineup.

Stevens (Aub): BHS LOSO, two steps and pretends its dance. Cat leap switch ring… not a ring. Gainer kick front to knees is apparently named after her in JO! Wolf turn, a bit rocky, stuck dismount.

Desch (Ala): Double pike, super airy. one and a half to layout barani split punch front, nice leap pass. Wait, I’m sorry, apparently Dana described her as “as strong as an ox.” Good finish. 9.9

Sylvia (Aub): Full turn, front aerial Rulfova slowly connected. Sissone to sheep, weak sheep position, arm swing to stay in line. Cartwheel gainer full is nice and stuck. 9.9

Olsen (Ala): Double double, pretty, hop to the side. Super difficult leaps, front through double back with a hop forward. Lunge, girlfriend! 9.85

Watson (Aub): Full turn, BHS LOSO with a sliiiiightly soft trailing knee. Cat leap side aerial, switch straddle quarter, one and a half dismount with a hop. 9.875

Graber (Ala): Full in, flirts with the line but stays in, switch side and actually cross steps behind to dance out into the best wolf 3/2 I’ve ever seen. VALID leap pass right there. Front through double pike, wow! 9.9

Sheppard (Aub): BHS LOSO and hits the beam with arm flourish already ongoing. LOVE that. Hitch kick side aerial lovely, switch switch side, one and a half dismount well done! 9.925

Doggette (Ala): Floor debut! Pike full in beautiful, split full split full, front through double back, undercooked a little and steps forward. 9.75

After 3: Alabama 147.500 – Auburn 147.400

Not only is this meet super close, the totals are very impressive. Barring a beam disaster Alabama will finish somewhere within the Denver, UCLA, Utah, LSU cluster in the rankings . I’m really amped to find out where.

There’s Sam Cerio fluff and I’m skipping it because I don’t want that!

Rotation 4: Alabama beam, Auburn floor

Olsen (Ala): Switch to split. Triple series, slight hip shift as she lands but not a big issue. Full turn step out, front aerial, BHS double full dismount with a hop. 9.8

Slappey (Aub): Choreo is creepy cool. Front lay to Rudi, dynamics look a little funky but actually landed really securely. Double pike, straight to her knees, looked painful. Music is Game of Thrones now. Layout final pass, weird call. If she’s that hurt, she’d probably have been better off to not finish it at all, but I’m grateful to have seen that dance. 8.9

Burgess (Ala): One arm BHS, some form and hops off. Off again on a side aerial, side aerial back full dismount wonky. That was a sucky couple of routines. 8.55

Stevens (Aub): Double pike, great. Odd moment from a freshman but it looks like she can handle it. Switch ring switch half, Rudi with a low chest but works it out, double back also underrotated. 9.6

Klopfer (Ala): Wolf turn, front aerial BHS quick and clean. Beat jump straddle 1/2 was off and she arrested it well. Cat leap side aerial strong, making a lot of connections on the fly. one and a half good with a step forward.

Brusch (Aub): Full in, step back, KEEPS HER HEEL UP to avoid an OOB. Decision making on the fly from the frosh. One and a half front lay, switch half Popa 9.875

Blanco (Ala): Beautiful mount series, front aerial, BHS LOSO with a front foot scoot but well controlled. Switch switch half nailed. L turn with so much control, lovely scale, double full with a little hop. Painfully gorgeous. 9.9

Sheppard (Aub): One and a half front lay, pretty pretty leaps, triple full a touch underrotated but not enough to cause her a problem and well landed. Her presence is so special. 9.9

Doggette (Ala): BHS LOSO, left arm says what balance check? Switch switch half beat is great, side aerial back full with a tiny scoot. 9.85

Watson (Aub): Double pike, slight front foot scoot, lovely straddles, one and a half front lay. Great great landings. 9.9

Graber (Ala): Full turn, BHS two foot layout, bounces off onto one foot like she banged one ankle on the beam. That sucks, Jumps straight back up, switch straddle 3/4. Kick front, pulls the wrapped ankle again, looks like she’s in pain but fighting. Gainer full good. Slow mo shows that she flipped her ankle quite badly on that layout, owie.

Gobourne (Aub): Double back, looks like she’s about to bounce and arrests it with her arms. Strong leaps, front full front lay with a foot shift. Double pike fantastic. Not a 10 but freaking close. 9.95 WAR EAGLE.

Final: Auburn 196.625 – Alabama 196.025

Commentators asked Drew Watson if the rivalry with Alabama is charged. She said “I want to be mad at them, but I honestly really like them, so we weren’t like, “Oh, let’s go beat Bama!””

This is a really big win for Auburn, but so much to love and celebrate from both teams. Those Alabama freshmen!! Slappey and Graber will both be waking up a bit sore tomorrow, but let’s hope they don’t see any consequences beyond that.

VT: Drew Watson AU 9.900
UB: Derrian Gobourne AU 9.925
BB: Skyler Sheppard AU 9.925
FX: Derrian Gobourne AU 9.950
AA: Drew Watson AU 39.425

Live blog by Rebecca Scally

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