2018 Outlook – Alabama Crimson Tide

 

ALABAMA ROSTER 2018
Seniors
Mackenzie
Brannan
UB
BB
  • Returned mid-2017 on UB for 9.820 RQS
  • AA in 2016, including 10.0 start VT
Nickie Guerrero
VT
BB
FX
  • Team’s top routine on BB, VT
  • #4 nationally on BB in 2017 (9.945)
  • Occasional FX each season
Jennie Loeb
UB
FX
  • Has not competed in first three seasons
Kiana Winston
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • #4 nationally in AA in 2017
  • High of 9.9 on VT, 9.950 on UB/BB, 10 on FX
Juniors
Abby
Armbrecht
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • VT every week in 2017 for 9.835
  • Can provide an option on each event
  • Adding DLO on FX for 2018
Angelina
Giancroce
UB
BB
FX
  • Missed 2017 with injury
  • Occasional UB (9.792), FX (9.635) in 2016
Ari Guerra
VT
UB
FX
  • Weekly FX for 9.870 in 2017
  • Can contribute UB as needed
  • Attempting to add Omelianchik on VT
Sophomores
Wynter Childers
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Made final 2017 lineup on VT, BB, FX
  • High RQS of 9.865 on BB
  • Can provide any event for 9.8s as needed
Maddie Desch
VT
BB
FX
  • Regular late-lineup routine on VT, BB, FX
  • RQS of 9.845 (VT), 9.850 (BB), 9.905 (FX)
  • Has 10.0-start Y1.5 on VT
Peyton Ernst
BB
  • Transfer from Florida
  • Ineligible to compete in 2017
  • Weekly BB in 2016 for 9.860
Shea Mahoney
VT
UB
FX
  • Made final 2017 UB lineup for 9.860
  • Expected to add VT for 2018
Freshmen
Kylie Dickson
VT
UB
FX
  • All-Olympia
  • Super from Belarus
  • 2nd UB, 6th VT at 2017 JO Nationals, Senior F
  • Competed DTY in 2017 JO season
Lexi Graber
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • CEGA
  • Scored 10.0 on VT (Y1.5) at 2017 JO Nationals
  • Will provide option on each event
Bailey Key
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Texas Dreams
  • 2013 junior national champion
  • Currently working UB, BB
  • Has not shown VT, FX in preseason
Alonza Klopfer
BB
FX
  • North Stars
  • 4th AA at 2017 JO Nationals, Senior E

Recent History
2017 – 6th
2016 – 3rd
2015 – 4th
2014 – 4th
2013 – 3rd
2012 – 1st
2011 – 1st
2010 – 3rd

Somewhat unexpectedly, 2017 turned into Alabama’s worst season since 2008, the result of a sudden poor showing in Super Six for 196.000. Still, Alabama spent the entirety of the 2017 season among the top six teams and looks poised to remain in the top six in 2018, provided the team shows a modicum of health.

As made clear by some depleted intrasquad lineups, which has stoked a mild case of December-panic about the Tide’s chances, the health of some perpetually injured former elites will be the biggest obstacle between Alabama and another successful season.


Vault
Lineup locks
Guerrero (9.880), Desch (9.845)
Lineup options
Dickson (FR), Graber (FR), Armbrecht (9.855), Winston (9.850), Childers (9.840), Guerra (-), Mahoney (-)

Alabama has a very competitive theoretical collection of 10.0 starts this season, one that would keep pace with most schools in the country. Because we haven’t seen…really any of them yet in preseason, however, it’s still a potential lineup rather than a confirmed lineup. The presence (or lack) of some of those 10.0s will make the difference between Alabama being a 49.300 vault team and a 49.4+ vault team.

The Y1.5 from Guerrero is the highest returning vault score and the most likely to make weekly appearances in 2018, which should again be joined by Desch‘s 1.5 at the end of the lineup. Ideally, two freshmen will assist. Dickson showed a DTY as recently as this spring, while Graber showed a high-scoring Y1.5 herself in JO. That would make for a strong four. You’d take that four. Perhaps a little more high-9.8s than 9.950s, but very usable scores.

In the past, Brannan also had a 9.9-worthy Y1.5, though later-career injuries have limited her on the leg events and we haven’t yet seen her among the vault choices so far for 2018. That may no longer be an option. Alabama is also trying to teach Guerra an Omelianchik to give the team another 10.0 start, but she hasn’t been able to pike it yet, and it won’t make the lineup tucked (a 9.90 start). Those two are longer shots.

Alabama does look like it will be showing 2-3 Yfulls this year, but there are a number of very 9.8able Yfulls on this roster. Winston has great dynamics, Armbrecht has continued to improve, Childers made the lineup last year, and Mahoney is adding back vault for 2018, showing the best full in Alabama’s recent preview. Alabama should have no trouble coming up with a lineup of mid-9.8s but will need those freshman 10.0 starts to come along to keep pace with the 49.5-worthy teams.


Bars
Lineup locks
Winston (9.910), Key (FR), Mahoney (9.860), Brannan (9.820), Dickson (FR)
Lineup options
Guerra (9.800), Childers (9.771), Graber (FR), Giancroce (9.792 in 2016), Armbrecht (9.725), Loeb (-)

Bars should go well for Alabama in 2018 despite losing critical routines from Bailey and Jetter, mostly because the freshman class is quite proficient on bars. Let’s talk about Key. So far in the preseason, we’ve seen only beam routines and no-dismount bars routines (nothing real on vault or floor yet, so be careful about leg-event expectations), but you know she could burp as a dismount on bars and get a 10. It’s probably going to be fine. Alabama will also be counting on Dickson to be new-Jetter in this lineup with superior amplitude on a Tkatchev, and we know how 9.9-capable Winston is on bars, a lineup-leading routine in its own right.

Other lineup locks will be Brannan, who was very 9.900 in the anchor spot in 2016, and Mahoney, who provided pretty much weekly 9.850s in her first season. For the remaining spot or two depending on how things go, keep an eye on Graber, who is quite nice in the toe-point department, Guerra, who is always close to making the bars lineup with an efficient little 9.800 routine, or Childers, who made six appearances last year, typically for 9.8s.

Alabama needs Key to be a big bars star in order to hit that 49.4 zone, otherwise the lineup might be a little 9.850y, but that shouldn’t be too much to ask.


Beam
Lineup locks
Guerrero (9.945), Winston (9.935), Key (FR)
Lineup options
Ernst (9.860 in 2016), Childers (9.865), Desch (9.850), Graber (FR), Armbrecht (9.669), Klopfer (FR), Giancroce (-)

Expect beam to be Alabama’s best event in 2018. It will certainly be the hardest lineup to make with 9-10 competition-usable options hanging around, but that doesn’t mean all the options would score equally at their best. To keep Alabama among the best beam teams in the country, it’s essential that Key and Ernst are both present and hitting.

Don’t expect more than a beam routine from Ernst these days, but now that she’s able to use her hands again (oh just that), we can also expect more from Ernst than the 9.850s she was getting for Florida. As for Key, beam is the one event where she currently looks ready to go, and she looks in line to get big scores with composition that solves the problems of her elite routine. Put those two up with the proven 9.9+s we know from Guerrero and Winston, already two of the best beam routines in the conference, and Alabama should be just fine for scores over 49.4.

Childers and Desch carved out spots for themselves in the middle of the lineup last season and look best poised to return, though Graber is one to watch as well with a bhs+lay-pike series. Because it’s Dana Duckworth’s Alabama, experimenting with lineups will happen, so all of these people will see time, along with your midseason meets where Armbrecht and Klopfer get in.


Floor
Lineup locks
Winston (9.945), Desch (9.905)
Lineup options
Key (FR), Guerra (9.870), Guerrero (9.865), Childers (9.863), Armbrecht (9.500), Mahoney (-), Dickson (FR), Graber (FR), Klopfer (FR), Loeb (-)

As was the case last season, expect Alabama to have plenty of options to rotate in and out of the floor lineup and to score very well with them. The concern is that when it comes down to postseason meets, it’s all a little high-9.8s and 49.3s compared to the biggest floor teams. The 49.2s and 49.3s Alabama got at SECs and nationals last season weren’t at the level of the title-contending schools.

That’s why, even though Alabama has been leg-cautious with Key in preseason, it would be nice to get her into a floor lineup to bring a real whiff of improvement over last year’s group. Otherwise, it’s still going to be the Winston show for huge scores with her DLO, supported by occasional 9.9s from Desch.

Two other critical gymnasts to Alabama’s floor success this season will be Guerrero and Armbrecht. Guerrero is an exceptionally capable floor gymnast but always competes a couple times and then never makes the final lineup. In her senior year, she must be a more regular and reliable leader on floor, because she can get 9.9s. For her part, Armbrecht is adding a DLO (look at you Abby Armbrecht), which would provide her routine the necessary oomph to be a real lineup set this season, not just a backup. I’m not completely sold on the freshman class for the leg events, so internal improvements like that from upperclasswomen will be essential.

Expect Guerra to figure again this season, and I’m partial to the facial expressions of Childers, so I’ll be rooting for that one to make it as well. That’s the top group of choices (with a hearty double pike parade ready as backups), with Key the potential difference between a regular, good Alabama floor lineup and one that has some special scoring ability.


On this paper, this looks like a season of maintaining the same level for Alabama. Losing 10 of 24 important postseason routines from last season makes it rather difficult to improve, but it’s also reasonable to expect that same number of postseason routines to be contributed by new gymnasts, which ultimately keeps Alabama’s Super Six expectations steady.

What would make this a title-contending team would be more than 10 high-level routines coming from that freshman class. That means not just Key in the AA, but Dickson and Graber providing important leg-event sets. Alabama had 6 RQSs in the 9.9s in last year’s postseason lineups (5 of which return), compared to 16 from Oklahoma, 13 from LSU, and 9 from Florida and UCLA, so it will take a hefty bag of new 9.9s to jump into that top category.

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19 thoughts on “2018 Outlook – Alabama Crimson Tide”

    1. It’s also of note to mention that she kind of needed that year to recover from her shoulder surgery that she had at the end of the 2016 season, so even though she was ineligible because of NCAA transfer rules, it probably worked in her favor.

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  1. My concern with Winston is that we haven’t seen her compete bars in any of the intersquads or intrasquads, or the training vids posted on instagram. Maybe the coaching staff is reserving her, since she doesn’t need the competition experience… but I’m worried she might have an injury that’s otherwise keeping her out of that lineup. She’s definitely training BB/VT/FX, but I haven’t seen any evidence of her training bars.

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  2. My fear — This is one of those Bama teams that remains consistent all year and then capitalizes on mistakes from the other teams. This team makes me nervous (as an OU fan).

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  3. I wondered last year if Alabama’s problem was having too much depth, resulting in a lot of playing around with the lineups and not getting the consistent competition experience. And also struggling with the question of what’s the right lineup to pick because you could pick wrong just as easily as pick right. All of this would suggest that they could fall into the same trap this year. It will be interesting.

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    1. I think the main problem is just as Spencer said…not enough gymnasts that are capable of consistently scoring 9.9. Besides Kiana, there’s not even another AAer really. Everyone just kind of dabbles in certain events; they don’t seem to be able to develop talent very well these past few years. Meanwhile, LSU, Florida, and Oklahoma are killing it with multiple superstars.

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    2. I think last year Bama’s problem was injuries forcing them to “explore their depth.” I don’t think Duckworth would have chosen those lineups if she had other options.

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  4. I’m still not sold on Key yet. She’s been injured for awhile and the stuff we’ve seen preseason is meh. I want her to be healthy and I think she’ll be one of those former elites that get better in NCAA every year.

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