ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
2021 – 5th
2020 – 8th
2019 – 12th
2018 – 8th
2017 – 6th
2016 – 3rd
2015 – 4th
2014 – 4th
2013 – 3rd
2012 – 1st
2021 IN REVIEW
After appearing on track to take the loooong plummet to obscurity only a couple years ago, Alabama has orchestrated a resurgence, and 2021 will go down as the team’s best performance in at least a half decade. The season started in the fine-but-normal category until a mid-February upset of LSU signaled there was more going on here than expected. Alabama ultimately managed a 5th-place finish, coming just .025 shy of reaching the championship, and scored yet another major upset at the SEC Championship by knocking off both Florida and LSU.
Alonza Klopfer – BB, FX
Jensie Givens – UB
THE NEW ONES
Alabama introduces three first years this season, and while four-event anchor stardom doesn’t seem to be the path, the team will be hoping to get key-spot contribution out of a couple of them. Jordyn Paradise finished 2nd on vault at L10 Nationals in 2021 with a Yurchenko 1.5 that Alabama will aim to get into the lineup to reconfirm the path to a full six of 10.0 starts. Her big tumbling may make for a similarly compelling option on floor with the right leap selection, and her bars results befit someone who could believably slot into that lineup as well.
Lilly Hudson should be the type that gives the team a realistic option on four events (and she did compete all four at Alabama’s preview last week). The former junior elite has a beam that looks believable for the lineup depending on how many spots are available, a clean early-lineup-type bars routine, and beautiful twisting form on floor…if that were a thing that got rewarded ever. Corinne Bunagan competed at worlds in 2018 for the Philippines after a short venture as a junior elite in the US herself and will be looking to contribute to Alabama’s lineup or depth supply on bars and beam, with beam probably ranking as her most likely contribution.
For Alabama, the 2022 lineups shouldn’t be markedly different from 2021. A couple routines are gone—they’ll miss Klopfer’s beam, though it’s not irreplaceable—but the team should be getting a vault or two, a floor or two, etc, so that the overall depth increases to prevent any obvious dips in scoring potential.
Alabama probably isn’t favored to improve on that 2021 finish and make the championship this year but will remain in the next tier of frontrunners, those expected to reach nationals without too much drama. The concern about staying roughly the same in 2022 will be the potential of getting passed up by all the improving teams this year, so Alabama will be looking for a little more out of some of those juniors and seniors this year to provide those juicy surprise scoring upgrades.
2021 Event Ranking: 5
|Lineup locks: Lexi Graber, Luisa Blanco, Shallon Olsen, Kaylee Quinn, Jordyn Paradise|
|Lineup options: Mati Waligora, Shania Adams, Lilly Hudson, Emily Gaskins, Sania Mitchell|
Alabama will have more than six gymnasts on the roster capable of a 10.0-start, with the question looming as to whether enough of them can get into the lineup to keep the Tide on track with the best vaulting teams. Lexi Graber and Luisa Blanco will return with the team’s best 1.5s, both of which should rack up plenty of 9.9s, and look for Kaylee Quinn’s 1.5 to return as well, ideally joined by newcomer Jordyn Paradise (though word of a wrist injury is not ideal).
The Shallon Olsen DTY adventure doesn’t always pay off and is sometimes a 9.775, but it’s not really a situation where a difficulty downgrade would result in a better score, so just put it in the lineup and hope it’s a good landing day for at least 9.875. Mati Waligora found her Y1.5 last season for consistent 9.8s, which should be another likely choice this season. Theoretically, Shania Adams would seem a necessary option, though she was too inconsistent last season to make the championship lineup. Alabama may not need to take the risk with Adams this time unless she has found the landing.
There will be other 9.95 starts to work with, like the full from Gaskins and a Y1/2 from Mitchell, which should be 9.8-able and can slot in if any of the 10.0s don’t work out. Still, the name of the game for the top teams this year will be all 10.0 starts or bust since so many teams are realistically capable of it this year. Meanwhile, I’ve probably given up hope on the Makarri Doggette Y1.5, and I’m not happy about it.
2021 Event Ranking: 8
|Lineup locks: Luisa Blanco, Makarri Doggette, Shania Adams|
|Lineup options: Cameron Machado, Emily Gaskins, Mati Waligora, Lilly Hudson, Jordyn Paradise, Lexi Graber, Corinne Bunagan|
Bars could present a conundrum for Alabama this year because, aside from a couple massive scores at the home regional, the bars lineup was middling 49.3s most of last season and doesn’t look to have a drastic upgrade in store this season. Still, the top group of Blanco, Doggette, and Adams should get big scores (if they haven’t gone 9.9, it was a miss), which would carry the lineup to at least a fairly comfortable place.
As for the rest of the spots, Alabama will be without Jensie Givens this year and will be looking for a couple of the other returners to transform their 9.8s into something closer to 9.9s. Machado was a mainstay in the lineup last season, so expect her to return, and when Gaskins is able to go on bars, she has typically been one of the best scorers on the team with 9.9s to show for it. I’d say the goal this year should be to get Gaskins in there consistently and have Mati Waligora continue to grow into the 9.9ing bars worker she can be (even if it means going without the DLO 1/1), but all the first years will also present possibilities and wouldn’t be surprising entrants.
2021 Event Ranking: 6
|Lineup locks: Luisa Blanco, Lexi Graber|
|Lineup options: Emily Gaskins, Shania Adams, Makarri Doggette, Lilly Hudson, Shallon Olsen, Mati Waligora, Corinne Bugagan, Ella Burgess, Cameron Machado|
Alabama’s beam should be a strong event this year, but it’s also an unusual case in that beyond Blanco and Graber, I wouldn’t feel at all confident about any specific individual making this lineup. Blanco and Graber are going to get 9.9s—10 can be an option for Blanco—but beyond them, Alabama has about four dozen maybes fighting it out for the remaining spots.
That’s not to say that all those maybes are at the same level. Reaching final-four-level success for Alabama this season will hinge on ensuring that the most talented beamers are actually hitting consistently enough to make the lineup and get the 9.9s their ability warrants, and yes I am talking about Shania Adams. Her beam execution is too strong for her to be a borderline option who misses the championship lineup or who wobbles for 9.7s. Similar is true for Makarri Doggette, who went 9.925 in the very first meet last season and ended up not making the nationals beam lineup. Alabama needs the highest-ceiling athletes in this lineup, even though there are enough beamers on this roster to make two lineups of 9.800+ scores. Those who can 9.9 are rarer geese.
2021 Event Ranking: 13
|Lineup locks: Lexi Graber, Luisa Blanco, Shania Adams, Shallon Olsen|
|Lineup options: Emily Gaskins, Griffin James, Lilly Hudson, Jordyn Paradise, Sania Mitchell, Makarri Doggette, Mati Waligora|
In 2021, Alabama settled for a surprisingly low ranking on floor for a team that really has no business producing a teens-level lineup, but floor was slow to start and kind of erratic much of last season. There’s the possibility of newcomer upgrade in 2022 as Jordyn Paradise brings a double Arabian and Lilly Hudson brings the aforementioned twists. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either jump into some of the questionable spots in this lineup.
The non-questionable spots belong to Lexi Graber, Luisa Blanco, Shania Adams, and probably Shallon Olsen. As on beam, Graber and Blanco will rack up the 9.9s, while Adams should continue to progress as a floor worker in her second season, and Olsen is too talented a tumbler not to be there. I’m sort of interested to see what “I’m no longer also training for the Olympics at the same time” Olsen looks like this season. But as on vault, sometimes all that difficulty coalesces into a 9.7 for Olsen, and that’s the kind of inconsistent scoring that kept Alabama 13th on floor last season.
In the 9.9 department, watch out for Griffin James. She finished last season with three straight 9.900s, which made a great case for her to return to the lineup this time around. That’s the kind of unexpected 9.9 Alabama needs to get floor up to a level that can beat some top-4 teams.