By (Matthew Speakman)

Alabama gymnastics knows what it’s like to go on the road. With the season in full swing, the team has faced four of its six opponents away from home. Without its local fans, Alabama has focused on one thing: staying in their “Bama Bubble.”

“We do the best with creating 
energy by really just [focusing] on us and not letting outside things distract us,” said freshman 
Maddie Desch.

The phrase has been used by Alabama gymnasts for many years. As the freshman class came in this year, they really started to embrace what it meant to be in the bubble. Freshman Wynter Childers said her use of the phrase started very early in her time with the team.

“We don’t need to look at the scores, we just need to stay in the moment and stay doing our stuff,” Childers said. “At first, it’s kind of goofy, but it’s a good saying to go by.”

This week, Alabama will once again have to perform in front of opposing fans. The team will travel to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the Wildcats – its fifth road meet this season. So far, the team only has one victory on the road, and has posted its two lowest scores (195.325 against Arkansas and 195.850 against Auburn) away from home.

Head coach Dana Duckworth knows the challenges that come with going on the road.

“We’re going to need to create our own energy on the road,” Duckworth said. “That’s going to take some work, but we’re trying to create that in the gym and in practice.”

Alabama is still riding the high of its big win over Florida for the Power of Pink meet. Part of the reason behind Alabama’s big performance was their dedication in the gym. Many members of the team spoke on how the focus was at a new level.

“Everyone is just really engaged and wants to make the next turn better,” Desch said. “It’s not really anything specific, it’s just everyone as a whole. You just really feel that energy and the intensity.”

In that meet, junior Kiana Winston posted a perfect 10 on the floor 
exercise. Winston also finished with an overall score of 39.700 – a career high. Her performance earned her SEC gymnast of the week.

Winston has been a leader all season for the Crimson Tide, but her leadership is not entirely vocal. Winston tries to lead by example. She shows her fellow teammates how to perform on the biggest of stages. Childers said she tries to reflect Winston’s demeanor.

“She is one of the most chill people in the gym,” Childers said. “She’s constantly just joking around or smiling. She does just her gymnastics. I think that’s why she’s so good. She just really has no worries.”

One thing that is infectious about Winston is her smile. During each event, especially in floor exercises, Winston’s glowing grin resonates through the team. Many leaders like to challenge their teammates, but Winston’s positivity has the same leadership effect.

“Her positivity and her smile just really carries everyone in itself,” Desch said. “I can always look at Kiana and her smile, and it makes me smile. Keeping that positive attitude is a great 
leadership quality.”

Alabama’s meet against Kentucky will be its fifth top-10 
matchup of the season. The Crimson Tide has faced the Wildcats each of the last two season, winning both meets. Over the last 10 years, Alabama faced the Wildcats nine times and won all nine meetings.

Alabama and Kentucky will start at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network+.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports