Blanco and Doggette Score 10s, Alabama Gymnastics Advances to Regional Final

Alabama gymnastics used two perfect 10s to win the first session of the Tuscaloosa Regional
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For the first time since 2017, an Alabama gymnast reached perfection. And it happened not only once, but twice on Friday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum. 

Luisa Blanco scored a perfect 10 on the balance beam and Makarri Doggette earned a 10 on the uneven bars as part of Alabama's first place finish in session one of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. 

"It's definitely something that's surreal," Blanco said. "Ever since I was a little girl, you always dream of that perfect 10."

Doggette had similar sentiments about reaching the pinnacle of a perfect score.

"We've obviously been wanting that perfect 10 for a long time, all of us have, so for that dream to come true is just so surreal like Luisa said," Doggette said. "I just knew as soon as I hit like, I saw my teammates behind me and that just made it so much more special because it was all for them."

The Crimson Tide was actually trailing heading into the final rotation before scoring a season high 49.675 on bars behind the 10 from Doggette and a 9.975 from Blanco. The high bars score pushed Alabama to an overall team total of 197.525. 

Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said it was crucial that Alabama finished strong on bars after struggling on the vault in the third rotation. 

"Had we not done our job on bars, we would not be going into tomorrow," Duckworth said.

Alabama started the meet on a high note with a 49.500 on beam highlighted by the 10 from Blanco. Gaskins scored a season high 9.9, and Shallon Olsen competed on beam for the first time since Jan. 29 and earned a 9.875. 

Without key contributors Lexi Graber and Mati Waligora, Alabama had multiple gymnasts step up into the lineup including Emily Gaskins. 

Gaskins competed in the all around competition for the first time this season and finished third behind Blanco and Arkansas' Kennedy Hambrick. 

"Emily just has to believe in herself, and obviously she proved to herself today that she's completely capable of being under the bright lights and hitting when needed," Duckworth said. 

Jensie Givens competed on bars for the first time since Feb. 12 and scored a 9.85 in the leadoff position. Sania Mitchell was added to the vault lineup for the first time in her career. 

Duckworth said Graber and Waligora are both battling injuries and are meet time decisions for Saturday. 

"It doesn't matter who's in the lineup as long as we do our job and do what we know how to do, everything will turn out how it's supposed to," Doggette said.

The 197.525 is Alabama's third highest overall score of the season. 

Alabama will be joined in the regional final by conference foe Arkansas, who scored a 197.250 which was good enough for a second place finish and a spot in the finals. 

The Tide and Razorbacks will face the two highest scoring teams from session two in Saturday's regional final at 7 p.m.

"Our bodies are ready. Our minds are ready, and of course our gymnastics is ready so we just get to turn around and do it all again," Gaskins said.

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