By (Matthew Speakman)

Junior Nickie Guerrero remembers her first home meet. Stepping out in her crimson leotard branded with a script A, she said her pre-match jitters were taken to a new level.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “It was like more of an out-of-body experience. I really felt like I was looking at myself when I was competing, which is really weird and I don’t even know how to describe it, but I was so nervous. When I got off of that beam, I started crying.”

It can be difficult to calm one’s nerves, especially when the home crowd is behind a gymnast. The pressure can build and throw a gymnast off of their game.

For Guerrero, it only took one meet to get her comfortable.

“After the first meet, you just start settling in,” she said. ”Just because you’re like “Oh I’ve done this. I got it. It’s fine.’ The out-of-body experience is scary, that like you don’t want it to happen again.”

Guerrero’s first meet happened two years ago, when Alabama took on the LSU Tigers in Coleman Coliseum. On Friday, the No. 4 Crimson Tide will face off against No. 1 LSU once again. Head coach Dana Duckworth had simple advice to her freshman making their home debuts.

“You get to represent something so much bigger than yourself,” she said. “If you try to do things outside your comfort zone and go bigger or better than what you do every day, you’re only going make yourself have a harder time being successful. So focus on the things you do every day. Stay calm.”

The Crimson Tide’s freshmen- Wynter Childers, Caitlin Cole, Maddie Desch and Shea Mahoney- already have a meet under their belts. Last week, Alabama traveled to take on the preseason No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners- a meet that ended in a loss.

The meet was all about getting their feet wet, and Guerrero said she was impressed with the freshmen.

“They did well. I honestly don’t think nerves really got to them,” Guerrero said. “The adrenaline is something different you have to deal with, but for their first meet, especially away, I thought they did great and I think they’re going to do even better here. I’m excited for them.”

LSU boasts the No. 1 ranking in the country, just a week after Alabama faced the previous No. 1 in Oklahoma. Both teams also finished ahead of Alabama in the Super Six competition. Starting off the season with two No. 1 opponents is not exactly ideal, but Alabama is not concerned with who their opponent is.

“I just don’t pay a lot of attention to other teams, because we have so many great things going on with our team,” Duckworth said. “You gotta focus on what you can be a part of and what you can control.”

Last year’s LSU meet did not go exactly as planned. On the road, the team suffered two breaks on both the uneven bars and the balance beam. Since LSU is a conference rival, the team is ready to get yet another chance to face off against the Tigers.

“We were just really tired along the end of the season,” Guerrero said. ‘It’s [LSU] a hard place to go and compete, but coming back and having them come to us is more exciting, because we’ll have the home fans behind us…we’re just excited to get another opportunity against them.”

Alabama and LSU will face off on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Introductions will begin at 7:15 p.m. By starting out the season on the road, the team has waited to get back in front of its home fans. The team is excited to showcase what it can do in front of its home fans.

“It’s exciting to come back to such a great environment,” Guerrero said. “It gets us more pumped and more excited. We’re just ready to let it all out there in front of our fans and come back and just have them behind us the whole way through.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports