Ella Burgess and Lilly Hudson hug

LIVE BLOG: No. 13 Alabama at No. 10 Kentucky

When these two teams faced off last season, the Crimson Tide handily defeated the Wildcats by nearly a point and a half. You can never say never when it comes to SEC gymnastics, but all signs point to this year’s matchup being much tighter. Neither team has room to coast, but Kentucky is the clear the favorite: Not only does it have home floor advantage, it outranks Alabama on every event except floor. Additionally, it’s unclear whether Alabama’s upperclassmen Makarri Doggette and Shallon Olsen will be competing, leaving up to seven routines with 9.9-plus potential to fill.  

Another interesting layer to this meet is that neither teams’ star all-arounders have had a strong start to the season: Alabama’s Luisa Blanco and Lilly Hudson have both displayed uncharacteristic errors on all four events while Kentucky’s Raena Worley has struggled to hone her landings. 

You can watch along at home on SECN and find live scoring here.

The meet is starting a little bit late due to the UGA @ Florida running over time.

Rotation 1: Kentucky vault, Alabama bars

Procasky (UK): Very floaty Y full, great height. Piked down a touch at the bottom, but a stick to start out the Wildcats. 9.825

Hudson (Bama): Pretty toe hand to Maloney with some leg sep. Loose body on the bail. Blind full to a high double tuck, stuck. 9.875

Wilson (UK): Nice, high fhs piked half. Chest somewhat down on the landing and a small hop back. 9.850

Paradise (Bama): Blind change to a big straddled Jaeger, no problems on the bail. Short on her final handstand. DLO with slight softness throughout, swims but another stuck landing. 9.850

Patterson (UK): HUGE fhs piked half. Minor hop back. Very similar to Wilson’s, just bigger. 9.875

Waligora (Bama): Good first handstand position. Blind change to a super high straddled Jaeger, good position on the bail. FTDL is a little wild and she takes a big step back. 9.825

Magnelli (UK): Wow, biggest fhs piked half of the bunch. Head was a little foward on the block, so she got a little wonky in the air. Miniscule foot readjustment. 9.925 is high compared to the other two.

Machado (Bama): Shout First toe hand was a little shy from this angle. Maloney and Pak with the merest leg sep. VL was gorgeous. Final handstand was shy, but blind full to double tuck was excellent and stuck. 9.950

Worley (UK): Busts out the Y 1.5. Not the highest, but good, tight form in the air and a moderate hop forward. 9.850

Doggette (Bama): Gigantic Tkatchev to Pak, great. Half pirouette on the low bar looks a little rushed, but a superlative DLO, stuck. 10.000… I was thinking more along the lines of a 9.950, but that was absolutely the best routine so far.

Bourque (UK): FINALLY! Y 1.5. A bit crunchy onto and off the table and a large step forward, but overall a solid collegiate debut! 9.825

Blanco (Bama): Toe hand with some elbow bend. Beautiful VL. FTDT was high and lovely, and yet another stick (though she did come up on her toes). 9.950

AFTER ONE ROTATIONS: Alabama 49.625, Kentucky 49.325
A goldfish memory is critical to success in the sport, and that was a completely different bars rotation compared to last week for the Crimson Tide. We’ll see if those sticky landings carry over to vault.

Similarly, that was a much improved vault rotation for Kentucky. So glad to finally see freshman Borque in the lineups, and her Y 1.5 gives the Wildcats that little extra boost in SV that can make a major difference in a tight meet.

Rotation 2: Alabama vault, Kentucky bars

Mitchell (Bama): Big amplitude on her Y half. Opens a little late and has to take a small step back, but strong opening vault. 9.775

Davis (UK): Quick blind change to straddled Jaeger, no probelms. Tidy bail. TIGHT DLO with a college stick. She goes fast, but hit all of her positions. 9.850

Doggette (Bama): Y 1.5. Bit of shoulder and elbow bend on the table, but a nice position in the air and a small hop. 9.925

Bunn (UK): Blind change to a pretty straddled Jaeger. Good tension in her bail to handstand. No issues on her final handstand. DLO not quite as tight as Davis’s, but THAT was a stick. 9.850

Hudson (Bama): Slightly underrotated Y 1.5 despite a big block, soft knees in the air and has to take a step back. 9.825

Riegert (UK): Pretty first handstand. A little wonky on her blind change and comes off on her straddled Jaeger. Tough break. Nice job on her bail to handstand. Fluctuating body shape on the DLO, but another definitive stick. 9.150

Blanco (Bama): Another Y 1.5. Twists a touch early onto the table and underrotates, small step back. 9.850

DeGuzman (UK): Blind change to a lovely straddled Jaeger. Bail was fine. DLO STUCK! Best routine from Kentucky so far. Some leg sep on the replay, but it was a beauty from the side. 9.925

Gladieux (Bama): MASSIVE Y full with a teensy hop up and down. Gorgeous vault in the air. 9.875

Luksik (UK): Nice height on her Ray, but elbows looked a little bent on the giant and regrasp. Perfect final handstand and a pristine DLO, stuck. Kentucky’s rollin’! 9.950

Paradise (Bama): Overpowers her Y 1.5, but nothing disastrous. Lost her form just a bit in the air and takes a large bound forward. 9.775

Worley (UK): Great turnover on her Tkatchev, tight form throughout. Pak, no problem. Fantastic, deliberate final handstand followed by a HIGH FTDT, and breaks the stick streak with a tiny little step. 9.925

AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: Alabama 98.875, Kentucky 98.825

Alabama’s vaults couldn’t quite measure up to its bars, but that was a strong rotation overall. Again, Doggette was the best of the bunch. On the whole, I think the underrotations were mostly cause by opening up early to stick versus dodgy blocks, so hopefully we’ll see the landings improve as the season progresses.

Fall aside, Kentucky really couldn’t have done much more on bars. That looked like a team that wants to go to nationals, and that level of precision is likely what it’s going to take for the Wildcats to finally break into the top 8.

Rotation 3: Kentucky beam, Alabama floor

John doesn’t think a meet truly starts ’til you get to beam, which is fair!

Luksik (UK): Very smooth Onodi. Bhs loso with beautiful extension, super secure. Hitch kick with a waver to a very questionable switch half. Beat jump, good. Piked gainer, stuck. Only issue was on the jump series. 9.800

Waligora (Bama): Front lay a little bit flat to punch front double full slightly under. Switch full to wolf full, good position. Side aerial to a kick. Full L turn on releve throughout (I think…). Back 1.5 to front lay, much stronger than her opening pass. 9.850 is high with the issues on the opening pass.

Procasky (UK): Bhs loso with the slightest hint of a hip check, finessed it well. Cat leap to switch ring; angle was head on, but I think she hit the position. Front aerial to beat jump, no problem. Full turn kicked out. Another stuck gainer pike, so she gets the Hit Boa. 9.900

Machado (Bama): Opens late on her double pike and bounces out. Tries to save it, but goes OOB. Switch full to switch half, a little bit of foot form on both. Back 1.5 to front pike with a jittery landing. Very deep landing on her final double tuck but doesn’t move. 9.550

Bunn (UK): Lovely controlled full turn. Bhs loso loso with minimal adjustment. Switch split to split jump; again, this head on angle, but no obvious issues. RO back 1.5, gets a little off in the air and has to readjust her feet. 9.825

Adams (Bama): Fabulous double pike to open. Falls out of a 2.5 (?) wolf turn, but covers it well. Back 1.5 to a flat front lay, but a strong landing. Good job. 9825

Patterson (UK): The super senior has been having herself a season, including a 9.950 on beam last week. Kicked out her full turn, great. Bhs loso with a little hip check. Front aerial with a leg up check and lean, but fights through. Switch leap series with another small adjustment. Switch side, much more secure. Gainer pike with a little hop back. Obviously not a 9.950, but not a disaster either. 9.650

Gladieux (UK): Gorgeous opening FTDT, minor front foot slide. Switch full to Popa, high amplitude and lovely extension. Front lay to Rudi to rebounding split jump, good control throughout. Love the back walkover to finish. Excellent. 9.900

Worley (UK): Cat leap to switch side, well done. Love her low beam choreo and the shoulder turn. Front aerial to bhs loso, fabulous. Kicked out full turn. Always enjoy her singing throughout the routine. Back 1.5, stuck. That was an excellent routine, start to finish. 9.950

Hudson (Bama): Front lay to front double full, beautiful. Dynamic switch full to wolf full. Back 2.5, fully rotated and secure on the landing. Lacked some control on the landing of her double tuck with a slide and a scoot back, but a definitive hit. 9.925 is too high for the double tuck alone.

Magnelli (UK): Beautifully done bhs loso loso. Switch leap to switch side, lovely position in the air. Front aerial and full turn, wonderful. Stuck piked gainer. Another fantastic routine for the Wildcats. Should tie Worley’s at the very least. 9.975… COWARDS!

Blanco (Bama): HIGH double pike with a significant front foot slide. Multiple major steps on her double tuck. Good position on her switch ring. Fhs front full to front lay, a little deep on the landing but lovely.

AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: Kentucky 148.275, Alabama 148.150

Alabama loses some ground. As with vault, no major disasters and no fundamental technical issues, just some execution errors that unfortunately add up.

Kentucky is gunning for a jump in the rankings. For data nerds keeping track, the Wildcats need a 49.500 on FX for a program record score; that’s a big ask, but certainly not wholly outside the realm of possibility. Beam was their limiting factor last season, and that no longer seems to be the case. That final 1-2 punch of Worley and Magnelli was truly great gymnastics.

Rotation 4: Alabama beam, Kentucky floor

Burgess (Bama): Full turn kicked out, lovely. One-armed bhs to floaty loso. Side aerial with a big check and oh no! She comes off. Switch leap to beat jump, good. Cat leap to a solid switch side. Piked gainer, stuck. Tough start for the Tide. 9.225

Procasky (UK): Switch ring full, I think? Front lay to a low front full, but a secure landing. Switch ring to switch full, gorgeous. Ugh, hangs on to her double tuck too long and rolls OOB. OK, so this meet just got more interesting. 8.950

Rybicki (Bama): Last minute substitution, will be the first appearance for the freshman. Bhs loso, minor readjustment but steady. Cat leap to switch side, slightly overrotated, but again secure landing. Beat to straddle 3/4, well done. Full turn with a major swim, but stays on. RO back 1.5 a bit flat, but good landing with just a small hop. That was the definition of a pressure set and she delivered a hit. 9.700

Wilson (UK): Double wolf, no problems. Front through to a tidy double tuck, good landing. Switch half to a low wolf full. Back 1.5 to floaty front lay. Strong routine for Kentucky. 9.875

Waligora (Bama): Full turn, rock solid. Bhs loso, very nice. Side aerial with a minor hip adjustment. Split jump to tuck full with a bend at the waist but she steadied herself quickly. RO back 1.5 a little underrotated and a step back, but another hit. 9.750

Patterson (UK): BIG back 1.5 to front lay, just ridiculous height. Switch half to switch ring half, good positions. Switch ring to switch side, fine. Slightly underrotated double tuck and lunges forward. 9.875 is a little high but not obscene.

Gladieux (Bama): Bhs to two-footed back pike, very satisfying THUNK sound on the landing. Front aerial to beat, lovely. Switch leap to straddle, perfect position on both. RO double tuck, damn near stuck. Clutch routine. 9.875 is low compared to UK’s scores.

Magnelli (UK): Punch Rudi to loso, very well done. Magnelli is truly one of the unsung heroes of the SEC. Switch half to Popa, big height and lovely positions. Almost stuck her double pike but took a late lunge back. Straddle, good. 9.900

Hudson (Bama): Front aerial with an adjustment to bhs loso with an adjustment, but she sold it! Switch leap to beat, maybe shy of 180? Side aerial, no problem. RO back 1.5 didn’t get a ton of rise, but she stuck. Hudson’s score is taking a while which makes me think there was an SV issue on her acro connection. 9.950 is ridiculous.

Davis (UK): Giant double pike with a little front foot scoot. Nice height and oversplit on her Popa series. Back 1.5 to front lay, nicely done. Her music is dedicated to her late father, that’s cool. Strong double tuck to close with a controlled hop lunge out. 9.950

Blanco (Bama): Beautiful straddle mount and barrel roll. Front aerial, perfect. Lovely full turn on releve (if my retired French professor mother is reading this, apologies for not knowing where the accents are). Gorgeous bhs loso. That gorgeous Arabesque. Switch ring with a bobble to beat, will probably still get the connection. Textbook RO back 1.5, stuck. 9.950 sees Alabama break 197 for the first time this season and puts pressure on Worley to hit.

Worley (UK): Monster FTDT, fantastic! Switch ring to Popa, great position and extension throughout. Fhs front full to front lay, so much height and precision throughout. Double tuck landed up on her toes. Will certainly clinch the win for UK, just waiting to hear by how much. 9.950 earns the win and a program high for Kentucky, nbd.

FINAL: Kentucky 197.825, Alabama 197.375

VT: Isabella Magnelli and Makarri Doggette, 9.925
UB: Makarri Doggette, 10.000
BB: Isabella Magnelli, 9.975
FX: Hailey Davis and Raena Worley, 9.950
AA: Raena Worley, 39.675

READ THIS NEXT: Justin Spring Brings Energy, Fun to Alabama Gymnastics

Live blog by Claire Billman 

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