Live Blog: No. 8 Alabama at No. 14 Kentucky

Week four of NCAA gymnastics action opens with a rematch of two top 15 teams. Alabama heads to Kentucky aiming for a season sweep of the Wildcats after taking them down by just over a point in each team’s season opener.

Heading into the rematch, things appear as if they will go the way the first meet did. Alabama bounced back well last weekend after stumbling in week two while Kentucky’s scores have steadily regressed after its first meet. This will be a great opportunity for the Wildcats to get things back on track at home.

The Crimson Tide will have some extra work to do tonight, as it will be without star senior Lexi Graber, who is out for two weeks after being shaken up in a car accident. Head coach Dana Duckworth said earlier this week to expect Luisa Blanco to step in and compete the all around, and one might also expect to see an additional routine or two from Emily Gaskins as well, who has been limited to floor and one beam appearance this season.

The Wildcats seem to still be adjusting to senior Ella Warren choosing not to compete in 2021, as she competed four events every meet for Kentucky last season. That is not an easy role to replace, especially with a roster as large as Kentucky’s and theoretically many routines to choose from. Beam has been an issue in every meet so far, so keep an eye out in the third rotation to see if Kentucky is able to right the ship and break 49 on the event for the first time.

Rotation 1: Kentucky vault, Alabama bars

We still have sample scores in the live blog which include a 10.000 for Kaitlin DeGuzman on vault.

Bunn (UK): Pretty FTY, no pike down, lands a bit staggered and steps the front foot back. Really solid start! 9.75

Waligora (UA): Blind to Jaeger GREAT to overshoot, one of those awkward ones that come in at like 135 but I have to accept that in college that’s actually fine. FTDLO slightly piked down with a very small step back. Somehow there’s start value discourse on that. There’s no way it’s not a 10, what are you doing. 9.825

EDIT: Sometime after this, judge 2 figured their life out and bumped their score up a tenth, so Waligora’s score is actually a 9.875.

Albores (UK): Another pretty FTY, a bit more piked down and closer to the table with a deep knee bend and a hop. 9.7

Givens (UA): Getting iced while the judges dealing with the Waligora drama. Leg separations on top of the bar, bit of a break when she catches her Jaeger, leg split on the Pak. Little bits of form stack up on this one. But PLANTED her double layout.

Magnelli (UK): The first of Kentucky’s 10.0 starts. FHS 1/2-in pike is a super cool vault, but there’s a bit of form and a hop. 9.8

Machado (UA): Slightly shy on the first handstand, Maloney to Pak with a touch of leg sep, toe on to van Leeuwen solid. Toe blind full a bit slow to double back, hop to salute. 9.85

Worley (UK): First one and a half of the season for Worley and she overpowers it, takes a six-foot dive forward. Gorgeous in the air, though. 9.875

Adams (UA): Maloney to Pak, clean, van Leeuwen, hitting handstands. Toe full slow again like Machado, double back with some shuffle-step business. 9.9

Nixon (UK): Her usual Yurchenko full, spectacular in the air with a hop back. 9.9

Blanco (UA): Maloney to Pak, lovely, half turn on the low bar perhaps a bit slow. FTDB gorgeous, toes pointed, with a step back.

Angeny (UK): Big FTY, knees buckle on the landing and she falls backwards somehow. Kind of bizarre, Kathy is deeply perplexed.

Doggette (UA): Tkachev to Pak, big and pretty. Surprises me by casting straight into her double layout with power giants, pretty and stuck dead. 9.95

After 1: Alabama 49.425, Kentucky 49.025

Pity for Kentucky there that Angeny couldn’t take advantage of the momentum that was building in the second half of the rotation, but it was a solid effort anyway. Alabama should be really proud of the effort of the back half of its bars lineup. Those three were gorgeous and

Rotation 2: Alabama vault, Kentucky bars

Gaskins (UA): Okay FTY, flared out but a little low to really pull it off so her chest came in low. Step back. 9.75

Bunn (UK):Tight hips on the first handstand, blind to Jaeger a bit clunky. Okay bail, missed the last cast handstand, double layout with an arm swing. 9.775

Quinn (UA): One and a half, deep but stuck!! What a recovery after sitting this one last week. Won’t be a massive score because her knee bend was fairly extreme, but she should be super proud. 9.85

Davis (UK): Full turn to half to Jaeger, cool and clean! Missed a handstand, short on her bail, double lay with straight position, big step back. 9.725

Waligora (UA): Just a full and flies back of the landing mat, that was three or four steps back. She might have bailed out of a one and a half. Looks upset about it and getting serious talks from Dana. Luckily she ought to be physically fine. 9.675

Nixon (UK): Maloney to bail, little flickers of form, FTDB massive – she pretty much finishes it above the bar – overrotates it with a medium step. 9.775

Adams (UA): One and a half, undercooked, rebounds back and sits. 9.3

Worley (UK): Clear hip to Tkachev, a bit low and you hear the bar rattle, super clean Pak. Nailing the cast handstands, so aggressive, full out dismount stuck on her toes. Clutch. Kentucky needed to break out of the 9.7s and she’s gone big. 9.9!

Olsen (UA): Pretends she stuck that DTY, ultimately a bit forward on her toes and has to shuffle and then step to salute. We’ll see what gets counted. 9.825

Luksik (UK): Slight arch on her first handstand, Ray with great counterrotation, bail a bit shy, stuck double lay. 9.825

Blanco (UA): Just a full today, no need to take a risk when things have already gotten a bit freaky. Pretty, bounce in place. 9.825

Angeny (UK): Blind to Jaeger to overshoot, super clean leg form, FTDLO a bit staggered with a hop forward. 9.75

After 2: Alabama 98.350, Kentucky 98.050

Alabama successfully weathered some angst on vault there. Waligora bailing out of her one and a half instead of trying to yank it around now looks really smart. Little bits of mess on bars held Kentucky back from taking advantage of Alabama’s moment of weakness.

Rotation 3

Haigis (UK): BHS LOSO, clean. Switch to straddle 1/4 Shushunova. Full turn, cat leap front aerial tentative but hangs onto it with just a little arm wave, one and a half twist with a hop forward. Steady opener. 9.8

.Gaskins (UA): Double pike, she LUNGED I’m so proud of her even if the front foot slid. Y turn to wolf full, approximately. Switch ring switch half great. Front to double back, probably out of bounds but she MAY just have kept her heel up. We’ll see what the judges think. 9.85  I guess she did.

Magnelli (UK): BHS LOSO LOSO, flexed back foot but super secure. Good leaps, full turn with a check, one and a half with a big step. 9.8

Klopfer (UA): Double back, slides the front foot. Tour jete half Popa, one and a half front lay arched and a step back. Double pike solid. 9.825

Nixon (UK): BHS LOSO, pretty in the air, lands a little off but corrects with her arms. Front aerial to split, off throughout but works through it, one and a half with a little hop. Score on that one will be interesting, there were a lot of disguised checks that the judges can plausibly choose whether to deduct or not. 9.775 is pretty reasonable.

Mitchell (UA): Double back, badly overrotated with I think four steps back. Switch leap, wolf 1/1 wolf 3/2. Front through double back, underrotated and falls onto her hands. 8.975

Bunn (UK): Full turn, BHS LOSO LOSO and looks like she has it for a second before a stumble, but saves it. Switch to split, double full dismount stuck with chest down. 9.725

Olsen (UA): Double double, chest way down with a hop forward. Double turn, got the leaps, front to double back a little low and has to yank it around but lands solid. 9.825

Worley (UK): Cat leap switch side, front aerial BHS LOSO with a touch of knees but square and pretty. Full turn, one and a half with a hop. 9.825

Adams (UA): Double pike, great control on the landing. Switch half tuck 3/2, pretty, one and a half front lay. Double back with chest just a touch low. Good one, the most secure landings Alabama has produced today.

Angeny (UK): BHS LOSO LOSO with flexed feet and a minor bend check. Front aerial, tentative, side aerial tuck back full with a hop.

Blanco (UA): Double pike, scoots the front foot, nails the double back. Pretty leaps, front lay front full a bit archy.

After 3: Alabama 147.600, Kentucky 147.075

Kentucky should feel great after turning in its first 49.000+ of the year on beam. That event has been a bugaboo this year and even with wobbles, this was a victorious performance. Alabama had its typical lukewarm landings on floor, but so far is producing a strong meet and doesn’t seem to be feeling the loss of Graber too badly, though beam might change that.

Rotation 4

Klopfer (UA): Front aerial BHS great, clean leaps, looking super good. Cat leap side aerial, emphatic, one and a half twist stuck and she gets in a deserved bit of jumping and screaming. 9.9!

Bunn (UK): Double pike, great, basically stuck. Switch half wolf 3/2, one and a half front pike, really controlling the landings well. Good last pass which I forgot to write down. 9.875 wraps up a 39.125 AA set for the freshman.

Olsen (UA): First beam routine of the season. Switch half to beat, check, triple series solid with just a little scoot of the front foot. Full turn, front aerial with a tiny tiny wobble, BHS double full with a scoot to the side. 9.85. Not giving Kentucky space to creep close here.

Haigis (UK): Rudi to LOSO, ugly knees in the air. Switch side Popa pretty, double pike with a little hop. Short and sweet. 9.8

Gaskins (UA): Side aerial to split, full turn, beautiful Y scale. BHS LOSO off line and uses her arms AGGRESSIVELY to yank it onto the beam. Quiet “Whoa…” from Bart in the background. Now she’s having fun doing angry beam and milking it. Good leaps, gainer full stuck and a fantastic archy college salute. 9.85

Clarke (UK): Front double full, hop forward, pretty straddle positions. Front lay front full, good, little choreographed BHS LOSO series to get her back tumbling requirement. Rudi with a scoot to the side. 9.775

Adams (UA): Split front aerial, good, BHS LOSO with a major leg up check. Impressive to get that one back, it happened FAST. Double wolf turn, switch to beat, one and a half twist. 9.7

Angeny (UK): Double pike, hop and then lunge for some reason. Switch side Popa, one and a half front lay with a bouncier lunge. Double pike scooty.

Doggette (UA): Full turn, BHS LOSO with a lean that develops into a check. Beat switch half, bend check and puts her hands down. Side split half wobbly, side aerial back full with a step. Probably counting Adams’ score now. 9.45

Davis (UK): Double pike, underrotated and bounces forward. Switch side Popa pretty. Lots of really nice straddle shapes at UK today. One and a half front lay, connection a bit fast but not archy, double pike. Solid. 9.775

Blanco (UA): Front aerial, pretty, full turn. BHS LOSO great. Switch switch half a bit under, had to shuffle it around to get back in line with the beam. Double full with a small scoot. 9.875

Worley (UK): Tucked full in, okay landing, switch ring switch side. Front full front lay. Double pike super controlled and drops her head back in the lunge. Great anchor routine.

FINAL: Alabama 196.775, Kentucky 196.350

Victory over beam led Kentucky to a season high, fueled by Raena Worley’s career-best day in the all around. Missing Graber meant that Alabama had a little less margin for error than usual and the Tide thus felt Shania Adams’ shaky day a bit more than they usually would have, but the Tide still produced a respectable team total. Luisa Blanco delivered in the second all-around meet of her college career and provided an important safety net.

VT: Cally Nixon (UK) 9.900
UB: Makarri Doggette (UA) 9.950
BB: Alonza Klopfer (UA) 9.900
FX: Raena Worley (UK) 9.950
AA: Raena Worley (UK) 39.550

Live Blog by Rebecca Scally

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