By (Terrin Waack)

University of Alabama gymnast Jenna Bresette doesn’t always throw the cleanest warm ups on the vault, and she knows it. Coach Dana Duckworth knows it too, and she’ll give Bresette a look, signifying that she knows better.

And Bresette does, because that’s just during her warm ups. She believes warm ups are warm ups, simple as that. She tries not to stress about them.

So far they haven’t reflected her performance 
during actual competition. That, she nails.

“I like her scrappiness,” Duckworth said. “She’s kind of scrappy, and what I mean by that is when it’s her time and she needs to pull out, she has a way of doing it.”

Bresette has recorded nothing but consistent scores since she made her collegiate debut at UCLA during Alabama’s first meet of the season. She holds a season-high 9.875, which was posted at the SEC Championship, where the Crimson Tide placed second, and at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regionals, where the team claimed first and advanced itself to the NCAA Championship Semifinals in Ft. Worth, Texas, on Friday.

Bresette is also the only Alabama freshman who has competed in postseason. There are six on 
the team.

“When a freshman breaks through, that means that they have done their job and they have earned that spot,” sophomore Kiana Winston said. “Everyone earns their spot, so if they’re a freshman or a senior, they’re there for a reason. We put total trust in Jenna [Bresette].”

Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Bresette attended St. Pius X High School and competed at Fuzion Gymnastics where she was coached by Mike and Jackie Heredia.

The reality of being a collegiate gymnast didn’t catch up to Bresette until her feet hit the ground after her first competitive vault at UCLA.

“I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is real now. People are depending on me and I have to do what I have to do,’ ” she said. “It’s gradually gotten way better from then on.”

After that first vault was all said and done, Bresette was ready to take on the rest of the season. Bring it.

She scored a 9.675 that night and since then, has scored nothing below a 9.750. Duckworth said it’s because of her vault’s height and distance that locked Bresette into Alabama’s lineup right from the start, competing in every meet this season.

“Even though she’s only two months younger than me, she helped hold her own,” Winston said. “She’s like a sophomore in my eyes because she’s been out there competing like she’s been out there forever.”

Although it’s postseason, and she is the only freshman competing, Bresette truly believes she thrives off the pressure. Especially in meets that feature more than the normal two teams, she embraces the energy and the loudness that surrounds her. It fuels her.

Bresette doesn’t just welcome the pressure. She invites it in and asks it to stay awhile.

“There’s not necessarily more incentive to do better,” she said, “but the crowd is so much more excited and it’s easier to get more hyped up.”

Any hype is important. It’s how she gets through every day, regardless if it’s a practice or a meet. She feeds off of energy, even if she has to produce it herself, which she does – all the time.

Winston described Bresett’s attitude as spunky and sassy, but she hasn’t always been that way. When she first walked through the Alabama doors, no one thought she was going to grow into the bundle of energy she is now. Winston said Bresette was kind of quiet, but once her teammates got her to open up, they learned their lesson. Bresette is far from quiet, she’s actually quite the joker.

“I’ve always been a little bit ditzy,” Bresette said. “But it helps me because if I come in and I try to be serious, it doesn’t work for me. I have to be messing around and entertaining myself. It helps me focus on what I need to do.”

Oddly enough, it does.

Winston said during practice, Bresette will ask what’s for dinner or what’s going to be on TV that night, and she’s not doing it during water breaks or off time. She’ll ask such questions while the team is in the middle of its training. Then, when it’s her turn specifically, Bresette will go, do what she needs to and pick up right where she left off. What’s the weather going to be like this weekend?

She’s the same way at meets too. Right up until it’s her turn to compete.

“Dana [Duckworth] sometimes goes up to her and comments on her bow because she’s fantastic at hair and makeup so that’s really where her mind is in a way,” Winston said. “She’s like, ‘Oh, does my hair look good?’ We’re like, ‘Yes, Jenna, looks great.’ ”

Then, Bresette goes off and does her vault without any major hiccups.

“It’s very impressive because I’m like, ‘Wow, she wasn’t even thinking about the vault. How did she do that?’” Winston said.

Bresette just likes to have fun. She has enjoyed her freshman year and can’t believe it’s coming to an end. If all goes in favor of Alabama, Bresette, along with the rest of the Crimson Tide, will only have two meets left at the NCAA Championships – Semifinals and Super Six.

It doesn’t shock Duckworth that Bresette thinks her freshman year flew by. She can remember what it was like competing as a freshman gymnast at Alabama, especially making it to the NCAA Championships herself.

“Your freshman year is such a blur and there are so many things that are new that you don’t really realize what it is you’re doing,” Duckworth said. “You’re in the moment, you’re doing what you’re asked to do, and then all of a sudden, you get done with the season and you’re preparing for the 
next season.”

Even Bresette said as soon as this season is done, she’s ready for the next, but she wouldn’t mind doing freshman year again.

There will be 12 teams competing in the semifinals, five of which will compete directly against Alabama. Out of the two groups of …read more

Source:: The Crimson White Sports