Coming off a big win and memorable alumni weekend, the University of Alabama gymnastics season had a major setback this week when senior Mackenzie Brannan suffered an Achilles rupture that ended her career.
A fixture on the uneven bars, Brannan had scored a season-best 9.925 against No. 9 Kentucky last Friday, a 196.925-196.375 victory.
She suffered the injury while working on a floor routine Sunday. It was an emotional blow at the midway point of the season, with a trip to rival Auburn up next.
“I want (them) to not focus on any of the external things,” Coach Dana Duckworth said. “I want them to just do our job to the very best of our ability because we still haven’t hit that mark of ever one of the 24 routines done to the level that they’re capable of.”
Sophomore Wynter Childers, junior Angelina Giancroce and senior Jennie Loeb are the prime candidates to fill in on bars, but Brannon’s considered one of the team’s emotional leaders as well. The Crimson Tide have been wearing green ribbons this season in support of her brother’s fight against Stage 4 hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma.
“If I think I’ve having a rough day, it doesn’t even compare,” said sophomore Shae Mahoney, who scored a career-best 9.975 on bars last week as Alabama’s 49.550 was the sixth-best score in school history.
“She handles it with so much grace and so much poise. She’s my idol. She’s my hero.
It breaks my heart to write this message right now. I unfortunately ruptured my Achilles today at practice. Even though my gymnastics career has been cut short, I will continue to be the best supporter and cheerleader for my team the rest of the year. Extremely grateful to have experienced the career that I did and represent @bamagymnastics these past four years. This sport has blessed me with countless life lessons, opportunities, experiences, memories, and some amazing people and friends. I can’t thank my family, friends, and coaches enough for all they have done for me. And finally, thank you gymnastics. It has been a crazy and fun rollercoaster and I wouldn’t change it for the world. ❤️
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- Who: No. 7 Alabama at No. 16 Auburn
- When: Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Where: Auburn Arena
What’s the best way to keep up with the game
Fans have numerous options:
TV: SEC Network
Live stats: Will be available from the host school.
Twitter updates: @BamaGymnastics
What you should know
- It’s the final home meet of the season for Auburn, which has called for all (non-Alabama) fans to wear orange.
- The last time Alabama visited Auburn Arena in 2016, the Tigers snapped a Crimson Tide winning streak that dated back to 1979. Overall, Alabama leads the series 121-10.
- The Tigers are coming off a 196.575-194.225 home victory over Rutgers, but are 1-4 in SEC meets this season. Of the 24 routines that will be performed by Auburn, 17 will be by five freshmen and three sophomores.
- Including Auburn, five of Alabama’s next six meets will be in the state. It’ll host North Carolina (March 2) and Oklahoma (March 24) at Coleman Coliseum and have a rematch with Auburn in Huntsville. The Crimson Tide will subsequently host the 2018 NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional on April 7.
- Mahoney, who hails from Illinois, on how she describes the Alabama-Auburn rivalry to people back home: “I told them its like White Sox versus the Cubs times ten billion. I’ve never seen a rivalry like this … It’s a huge deal.”
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