LIVE BLOG: No. 12 Kentucky at No. 6 Alabama

I can’t believe it is Friday Night Heights, and I am sitting down to live blog an actual NCAA gym meet. Someone pinch me, it feels too good to be true. The SEC has some excellent meets on the docket tonight, and this showdown between the Wildcats and the Crimson Tide is flying a little under the radar, in my humble opinion. 

Alabama finished 2020 in a great spot, especially considering the number of athletes who were battling injuries by the end of the season. While the Crimson Tide have some ground to make up from the recently departed senior class, they look poised to bring back a plethora of routines from injury. Plus, star-in-the-making freshman Shania Adams makes her debut tonight; while she has the potential to be a key all arounder for the Crimson Tide, she will make the most immediate impact on vault and floor. The last mystery question surrounding Alabama is the return of Shallon Olsen, who had a late arrival on campus after spending the fall training in Canada—it is unclear how much she will be contributing for the Crimson Tide to start.

For Kentucky, the big question will certainly be who will be able to fill in the gaps left behind by senior star Mollie Korth. There has been a lot of mystery around Kentucky this preseason, and I am anxious to see which routines will be making lineups. I will especially have my eye on freshman Isabella Magnelli, who has the potential to shine on each event—especially beam.

Here is a fun stat from the Kentucky media guide: of Kentucky’s projected line up, 33% of bars, 33% of beam and 50% of floor contributions will come from non-scholarship athletes.

Watch along on ESPNU and follow scores here.

Rotation 1: Alabama vault, Kentucky bars

Quinn (ALA): FTY, good amplitude. 9.775

Harmon (UK): short on first couple handstands. Tkatchev seemed a little muscled. DLO dismount, good control on landing. 9.650

Olsen (ALA): Just the FTY tonight, but pretty much stuck. 9.850

Davis (UK): Nice jaeger, almost overdid her handstand, bit of an arch. DLO dismount, step back. 9.775

Blanco (ALA): FTY, pretty toes. As Kathy said, it’s hard to make this vault look elegant but she does it. 9.800

Nixon (UK): had some technical difficulties – nice routine from Nixon, though. 9.700

Waligora (ALA): Y1.5, good landing just a little short. 9.850

Worley (UK): Beautiful first handstand. Clear hip to tkatchev, decent. Pretty pak salto. Good final handstand, and FTDT dismount, just a hop on the landing. 9.850

Graber (ALA): Big Y1.5, big step on the landing. 9.875

Luksik (UK): Went over a little bit on first handstand. Ray was good. Overarched second handstand as well. DLO dismount, not quite stuck but close. 9.875 – new career high

Adams (ALA): Y1.5, looked a little short and took a big step to the side. 9.775

Angeny (UK): Blind to straddle jaeger looked sharp. Bail to handstand good. Full twisting DLO dismount, awesome. 9.900 – new career high

AFTER ONE: Alabama 49.150, Kentucky 49.100

Apologies for delayed updates; we are having some technical difficulties here. Hopefully this will improve as the meet goes on.

Alabama has just a tiny lead over Kentucky after the first rotation, after a vault rotation that left some landings to be desired. For Kentucky, both Luksik and Angeny saw a new career best on bars, with their 9.875 and 9.900 respectively.

Rotation 2: Alabama bars, Kentucky vault

Bunn (UK): FTY, some knee issues in the air but looked stuck. 9.825

Machado (ALA): Maloney to pak, some leg separation. Toe-on van leeuwen up to the high bar, finishes with a full pirouette into a double back dismount. That is a jam packed routine, damn.  9.875

Worley (UK): Big FTY, also looked stuck. 9.775

Graber (ALA): Comes over on the first handstand, can’t save it, and is off the bars. Geinger looked decent, some leg separation. Bail to handstand good. Looks a little shaky on final handstand but keeps it straight. Stuck her FTDT dismount. 9.300

Magnelli (UK): FHS pike half, big vault. Step on the landing. 9.825

Waligora (ALA): Great first handstand. Jaeger to overshoot good. Full-twisting DLO, step back.  9.775

Patterson (UK): FHS pike half, lots of height – not a lot of distance. 9.875

Givens (ALA): straddle jaeger, clean. Pak salto had some leg separation, but good. DLO dismount with a tiny hop. 9.750

Nixon (UK): HUGE FTY, stuck landing. Wow. 9.900 – new career high

Adams (ALA): Maloney to pak was gorgeous, legs totally together. Van leeuwen also very nice. Just a tiny step on the double back dismount. 9.875

Angeny (UK): FTY, hop on the landing. 9.825

Doggette (ALA): Giant tkatchev, wow. Pak salto lovely. Great final handstand. DLO dismount, stuck. That. Was. Pretty. 9.900

AFTER TWO: Kentucky 98.350, Alabama 98.325

DAMN this meet is close, you guys. I knew this would be a fun meet and it is living up to my expectations. Absolutely stellar bar routines from Adams and Doggette for the Crimson Tide, and a new career high for Nixon on vault for the Wildcats.

Alabama needs to keep it together on beam in order to get the edge back, which isn’t always the easiest ask, especially considering floor should be a strong event for Kentucky.

Rotation 3: Alabama beam, Kentucky floor

Klopfer (ALA): wolf turn, solid. front aerial into BHS, good. beat jump to split half, hard to tell if she hit 180 there. cat leap into a side aerial. RO 1.5 dismount, tiny hop on the landing. Solid start for Alabama. 9.800

Bunn (UK): Double pike to start, small step. Back 1.5 to a front pike for the second pass, solid. Rudi to finish, lets a little sloppy, not a controlled landing. 9.750

Machado (ALA): Double wolf into a triple wolf, slightly off but covers well. BHS LOSO, tiny balance check. Beat jump, straddle quarter. Side aerial, solid. BHS into a gainer full dismount. 9.825

Hagis (UK): Rudi into back LOSO, that’s kind of fun. Nice leap series. Good height on the double pike, bounced out of it a little bit – looked a tiny bit short on the landing. 9.875

Waligora (ALA): Full turn was solid. BHS LOSO, good. Side aerial, nice form. Split jump to a tuck full, great. So far very few bobbles here. RO 1.5 dismount, landing looked stuck. Very nice 9.925!

Clarke (UK): Big front double twist to start, big hop forward. Front lay to front full. Fun dance series. Finishes with a rudi, lands low. 9.700

Gaskins (ALA):  in for Graber. Side aerial to beat jump, nice. Full turn, balance check. Beautiful position on a Y hold. Split half was great. BHS LOSO, came off. Switch to split, nice. Gainer full dismount. 9.175

Angeny (UK): Opens with a double pike, beautiful. Clean leap series, good split position. Nice combination pass, looked like she pulled out a little early. Finished with a double tuck, uncontrolled hop forward. 9.800

Adams (ALA): Big balance check on her front aerial. BHS LOSO, looks a little uncontrolled but covers it. Solid double wolf turn. She seems to be getting more confident as she goes. Beautiful switch leap. BHS 1.5 dismount, stuck. 9.775

Davis (UK): Double pike with an uncontrolled landing to start. Gorgeous, super high leaps. Very nice second pass, lots of height she practically floats out of it. Double back to finish, big bounce back. 9.875

Doggette (ALA): Full turn, good. BHS LOSO, very nice. Beat jump to switch half to beat, unique series. Nails it. Side aerial to full dismount, sticks it. Pretty. 9.925 – new career high

Worley (UK): Big double pike to start, controlled landing. She’s capable of a piked full-in here. Switch leap, nice. Front full to front lay was lovely. Finished with a double back, stuck, damn. This will be a good score. 9.900

AFTER THREE: Alabama 147.600, Kentucky 147.575

THIS. IS. SO. CLOSE!!! I am on the edge of my couch seat. That was a strong rotation for both teams, with Kentucky introducing FIVE new floor routines. Alabama recovered nicely after a fall from Gaskins (who subbed in last minute for Graber) and finished with a beautiful routine from Doggette, who notched the fourth career best of the night.

Score change: Bunn’s floor raised to 9.800 which now means Kentucky leads Alabama!

Rotation 4: Alabama floor, Kentucky beam

Harman (UK): BHS BHS LOSO, and she comes off. That’s too bad. Switch leap to gainer LOSO, I don’t think they will give her the combination though. Gainer tucked full dismount. I’ll be curious to see what they do with that, score wise. 9.050

Klopfer (ALA): Opens with a double tuck, fights to keep that front foot down in the step back. Little short on her leap series. Back 1.5 to front layout. Finished with a double pike, very controlled. 9.850 – new career high

Haigis (UK): BHS LOSO, big balance check, grabs the beam. Switch leap to shushinova (love that). Cat leap to a front aerial, nice. RO 1.5 dismount, step forward. 9.550

Mitchell (ALA): Big double pike to open, landing looks a little uncontrolled. Switch leap, wolf, wolf 1.5 – that’s unique! I like it. Finished with a punch front through to a double back. 9.850

Nixon (UK): BHS LOSO, super floaty, slight bobble. Leap series good, looks a little jittery but covers it well. Front aerial, and she’s off – that was weird. Front toss to beat jump. Slight step on her 1.5 dismount. 9.225

James (ALA): LOVELY to see her back after her achilles injury last year. Front layout to 1.5, nice. Nice leap series. I absolutely love how dramatic this music is. Finishes with a double back, controlled landing. 9.800

Magnelli (UK): BHS LOSO LOSO, good. She went right to the end of the beam there. Front aerial, balance check. Full turn, good. RO 1.5 dismount, knees looked a little bent but otherwise good. 9.800 (reduced from 9.9 for neutral deduction)

Gaskins (ALA): Double pike to start. Pretty Y turn in her dance series. Switch ring, switch half, looked good. Punch front through to double back, lands short and her hands almost completely come down – I don’t think she touched the floor though. 9.025

Worley (UK): Missed the first part of this due to some technical issues, but I’m back. Front aerial to BHS LOSO, nice combination. Full turn nice. Finishes with a RO 1.5, stuck. 9.775

WOW they took off one-tenth from James because she didn’t salute the judges.

Graber (ALA): Opens with a full-in, very nice. She came down weird on her first leap, it almost looked like her ankle buckled, but she covered well. Punch front through to a double pike, excellent. 9.925

Angeny (UK): BHS LOSO LOSO, solid. That was floaty. Front aerial, good. Switch leap, beat jump down to one knee, unique. Full turn, good. Side aerial to a full dismount, stuck. Good finish for Kentucky 9.900

Adams (ALA): Double pike to start, good controlled step. Looked slightly off balance on the leap series. Huge 1.5 to layout, so much height. Wow. Big double back with a tiny hop to finish. Well done.  9.850

FINAL: Alabama 196.850, Kentucky 195.825

All Around: Josie Angeny 39.425
Vault: Cally Nixon 9.900
Bars: Jose Angeny, Makarri Doggette 9.900
Beam: Mati Waligora, Makarri Doggette (ALA) 9.925
Floor: Lexi Graber, 9.925

Live blog by Kalley Leer

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