2020 Alabama Crimson Tide

Wynter Childers
  • Made final 2019 lineups on UB, BB
  • NQS of 9.845 BB, 9.840 UB
  • No longer trains VT, FX
Maddie Desch
  • Competed FX every meet in 2019
  • #3 returning score on FX (9.865)
  • Competed 9 BBs (NQS 9.805)
  • Showed 4 VTs, peak of 9.775
Shea Mahoney
  • Competed VT, UB every meet in 2019
  • Competed 12 FXs, made final lineup
  • #2 returning score on UB (9.860)
  • #3 returning score on FX (9.865)
  • NQS of 9.830 on VT
Kylie Dickson
  • Competed UB in 13 of 14 meets in 2019
  • #3 returning score on UB (9.850)
  • Showed 4 VTs in 2018 season
Lexi Graber
  • Competed AA in 9 of 14 meets in 2019
  • #1 returning score on BB (9.900), VT (9.895), FX (9.890)
  • NQS of 9.810 UB
Tia Kiaku
  • Showed 2 FXs in 2019 following transfer from Ball State
  • Average 9.750
Alonza Klopfer
  • Competed BB in 13 of 14 meets in 2019
  • #3 returning score on BB (9.850)
  • Competed FX in 2018, peak of 9.800
Emily Gaskins

  • Made final 2019 lineups on VT, UB, BB
  • #1 returning score on UB (9.870)
  • #3 returning score on VT (9.835)
  • NQS of 9.820 BB, average 9.690 FX
Jensie Givens
  • Competed 6 UBs, 1 BB in 2019
  • RQS of 9.780 UB, score of 8.925 BB
Griffin James
  • Did not compete in first season
  • Exhibition on VT, UB
Sania Mitchell
  • Did not compete in first season
  • Exhibition on VT
Shallon Olsen
  • Made final 2019 lineups on VT, BB, FX
  • #2 returning score on all three events
  • NQS of 9.880 VT, 9.875 FX, 9.860 BB
Luisa Blanco
  • WOGA
  • 3rd AA, 2017 US Classic
  • 12th AA, 2017 US Nationals
Ella Burgess
  • Florida Elite
  • 1st BB, 2nd VT, 2019 Region 8s
Emma DeSantis  
  • Brook-Lin
Makarri Doggette VT
  • Buckeye
  • 1st AA, 2019 Nastia Cup
  • 1st AA, 2018 JO Nationals
Macy Orosco
  • Empire
  • 9th UB, 2019 Region 3s
Mati Waligora
  • Olympia
  • 3rd AA, 2018 JO Nationals
  • 2nd AA, 2017 JO Nationals

2019 – 12th
2018 – 8th
2017 – 6th
2016 – 3rd
2015 – 4th
2014 – 4th
2013 – 3rd
2012 – 1st
2011 – 1st
2010 – 3rd

Life has been in sharp decline lately for an Alabama team that isn’t supposed to have sharp declines, a decline that culminated in a 2019 result that saw the team fail to advance to nationals for the first time since 1982.

Particularly troubling will be that this finish was…about right. It wasn’t the result of some meltdown. Alabama spent the entire season ranked in the 8-11 zone, so while 12th is a little low, Alabama wasn’t some favorite to advance to nationals that imploded and got upset. The upset would have been if Alabama had defeated Michigan at regionals and made it to nationals (which did alllllllmost happen).

Ariana Guerra – VT, UB, FX
Abby Armbrecht – VT, BB, FX
Angelina Giancroce – UB, BB, FX

Alabama loses six final lineup routines from the 2019 season, which is not a ton but does include some key sets like the two best scores on floor and the anchor vault from Guerra. Still, you look at the freshman class, and this replacement project should be doable.

Alabama’s original class of four will balloon to six once the critical January entrants are included in the roster, and hopes are high that Makarri Doggette and Luisa Blanco can contribute late-lineup scores on multiple pieces to make up for last season’s lost routines (and then some?). But Alabama is very dependent on both of them coming through with many big routines, and because Blanco is a January starter, her contributions may be slightly delayed.

The 2020 season will be a fascinating test for Alabama because there’s absolutely no reason this roster can’t stop the bleeding, improve last year’s ranking, and get back into the nationals conversation as part of the top half of the SEC. That must be…not just a hope but an expectation. This roster of former elites and JO national champions shouldn’t be an eliminated-at-regionals, ranked-12th kind of team. It’s too talented for that. But all of this was true last year…


2019 Event Ranking: 9

Lineup locks: Lexi Graber, Shallon Olsen, Makarri Doggette
Lineup options: Shea Mahoney, Luisa Blanco, Emily Gaskins, Mati Waligora, Ella Burgess, Maddie Desch, Kylie Dickson

Stage 1 for Alabama on vault will be keeping pace with last year’s vaulting, and the path to do at least that seems pretty clear. Doggette will bring a new, likely anchor-worthy Y1.5 to join the 1.5 from Graber and DTY from Olsen and give Alabama three top-difficulty vaults that should bring in nationally competitive scores. No issue there. That’s a good group that can improve on last year’s back-half scores if Doggette delivers to her potential and Olsen’s scores for the DTY continue to rise.

The front half of the lineup will probably end up being fulls (at this point, it has been long enough that I’m not expecting 10.0 starts from Desch or Dickson anymore), but three fulls in the first half is still pretty normal for a nationals-contending team. Mahoney has the best one on the roster and should return, and between Blanco and Gaskins and Waligora and Burgess, there should be options to play around with to see who has the most 9.850able landings. At least, this vault lineup shouldn’t get stuck in the 49.1s and 49.2s as often in 2020 as in 2019.


2019 Event Ranking: 15

Lineup locks: Emily Gaskins, Shea Mahoney
Lineup options: Makarri Doggette, Jensie Givens, Kylie Dickson, Lexi Graber, Wynter Childers Luisa Blanco, Mati Waligora, Macy Orosco

Bars was kind of a problem for Alabama in 2019. Not because it was bad but because it was fine. It was 9.8s and 49.2s. Fine is not enough for a team that expects to be as good as Alabama expects to be. So even though Alabama brings back five of six from last year’s final lineup, the team will nonetheless look for some turnover here.

For that turnover project, Makarri Doggette was as excellent on bars in JO as she was on vault and floor and will need to be in the lineup here, and while bars ended up the weak event for Blanco in elite, that was more an issue of difficulty than ability. She has the form to excel with a college set. I’d also like to see Givens come along as an option in 2020. She got close last season but has the handstands and toe point to deliver a potential set with fewer built-in deductions than last year’s lineup had. Macy Orosco is another freshman who probably makes her best case for a bars routine.

Alabama needs at least several of those lineup-reinvention options to get in there because otherwise it’s probably another season of 9.8s. Gaskins and Mahoney will return to the lineup as last season’s best routines, and Dickson and Graber would be perfectly acceptable to get back in there, but change should be the name of the game overall.


2019 Event Ranking: 11

Lineup locks: Luisa Blanco, Lexi Graber, Emily Gaskins
Lineup options: Alonza Klopfer, Shallon Olsen, Makarri Doggette, Wynter Childers, Maddie Desch, Ella Burgess, Jensie Givens, Mati Waligora

There’s room to expect Alabama to improve on beam in 2020, mostly because of the injection of Luisa Blanco treatment that the lineup will receive. As an elite in 2017, Blanco had one of the better beam routines in the country, which was particularly notable for NCAA purposes for her ability to do a bhs + loso series and switch + split combination with no built-in deductions. It will be an upgrade to this lineup. Meanwhile, even though beam wasn’t typically Doggette’s wow event in JO, she also provides a set that can get into the six here, giving Alabama at least two new options to replace one lost routine.

We’re going to need to see Graber back here, Olsen suddenly boasts the #2 beam score from last year’s lineup (!), Klopfer was strong in the leadoff position in 2019 which will earn her a spot back, and Gaskins did fairly well on beam last year, with more to offer in the future. That’s a pretty comfortable prospective six, and with people who’ve competed often before like Childers and Desch providing usable sets as well, along with newbies like Waligora and Burgess who can contend, Alabama has a lot of good beam routines.

I look at Alabama’s scores and beam ranking from last season and think, “Wait, why weren’t you better than this?” and that would be exacerbated this season if we see another double-digit beam ranking. I mean, Dana Duckworth’s chin lift alone should get you to top 8.


2019 Event Ranking: 7

Lineup locks: Makarri Doggette, Lexi Graber, Shallon Olsen, Luisa Blanco
Lineup options: Maddie Desch, Shea Mahoney, Emily Gaskins, Mati Waligora, Tia Kiaku, Griffin James, Ella Burgess

Floor presents an easy solution for the 2020 lineup where two go out (Guerra and Armbrecht) and two go in (Doggette and Blanco), and the rest stays the same. It’s a pretty good strategy. I’m very smart. We’ll need to see Blanco’s double Arabian make appearances in college because it was so good in elite, and Doggette has E-pass options to spare. I like both of their chances to score well here.

Graber has the strongest returning routine for Alabama and will need to lead with a late-lineup set again, though just as critical as the new routines will be getting Olsen some higher scores on floor this season. She has too much power ability to be like, “I got a 9.850 again” as though it’s some double pike/rudi routine, and it’s essential that Alabama find the right balance between what Olsen can land and what is actually going to be controlled enough to get her 9.9+. Because the team needs 9.9s from her. Desch has been a mainstay on floor and should contribute again, and Mahoney can also return to fill out a six, though I’d also like to see Gaskins actually get into the floor lineup this year if possible.

Floor wasn’t as much of a problem for Alabama last season and brought in the requisite SEC scores of 49.450, but there’s still room to pick things up. Because if vault or bars end up staying 49.1y, then even a 49.4 isn’t going to save it.

10 thoughts on “2020 Alabama Crimson Tide”

  1. Alabama would have been ranked higher during the regular season had they not randomly been cold shouldered by the judges all of a sudden and been subject to harsher scoring than the rest of the major teams.

    1. While agree that they were judged a bit more harshly than the top SEC teams as a whole, the low scoring on beam was completely warranted in the first few weeks. The coaching staff had them completely unprepared for the pause deductions, while all the other top teams had it figured out from day one. I was very surprised when they came out the first week with major pauses from many athletes. That should have been worked out months before that. IMO, that set them up for more critical beam judging for the rest of the season. That being said, I am hopeful that they can turn the program around this season, and they have some great freshman to get that started.

    2. While they were cold shouldered a bit, there was clearly a lot more going on, with the lineups changing 2-3 spots week to week, inconsistent performances all around, and execution deductions on bars and Vault not being worked out as the season progressed like the top teams did. I really hope that Alabama can progress back to being a top team starting this season because they’re one of my favorites, but the fact that the program has been consistently declining every year since Dana took over isn’t making me optimistic.

      1. Well, her first two seasons were just fine. Winning SEC Championships in 2015 and that 3rd place finish in the 2016 Super Six with a peaked performance (remember, they nailed beam in the final rotation) were good results. 2018 and 2019 were really where the limitations started to show, although I think last season they were better by the end than in 2018. There were finally more E passes on floor and the team finally pulled it together at SEC’s. Their earlier season scores held back their RQS enough that they ended up in a very challenging Regional to get out of. They must start stronger this season, like at the 197 level right out of the gates.

      2. Alabama having heavy weekly lineup turnover is normal; the way they’ve always done things is they decide and submit lineups during meet warmups. The inconsistency the past few years has been annoying af though – we’ve had a team more than capable of delivering 24 top-notch routines but for some reason all 24 never showed up at the same time. I hope that finally improves this year.

        As for coming out of the gate with 197s, that’s some bullshit. No team should be 197 good in week 1 because like… pacing… and those who get those scores are generally getting generous gifts from the judges. Alabama has had years where they started out with a 195.xx and won nationals, because the season was paced where the last 5-6 regular season meets were the ones used in the RQS. If NCAA gym scoring has truly progressed to a point where a team can’t hope to get to nationals unless they START the season with a score that could have WON nationals less than a decade ago, we have a big BIG problem with score inflation that needs to be addressed at the league level, not by Alabama modifying their pacing and strategy to exhaust their gymnasts long before postseason rolls around.

    3. Welcome to literally every season for Alabama lol we didn’t even really farm 10s the last time NCAAWAG scoring went off the fucking deep end back in the early 2000s other than what Ashley Miles brought in

  2. I think Dana Duckworth is a wonderful person. However, I am very skeptical of her ability to be a head coach at a major gymnastics school where great results are expected year in and year out. She is very much a character development coach which is great; however, the quality of gymnastics is suffering I believe because of it. She needs to find a better balance of creating good people while also producing nationally competitive gymnastics or I feel as if this could be her final year at Alabama.

    1. Or build a brand/cult of personality like Val Kondos and then no one cares about your results or expects you to actually improve the gymnasts you recruit.

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