Alabama head coach Dana Duckworth has traveled to Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga. many times. In her years as both the head coach and an assistant coach, she has memories facing the Bulldogs.
Her most memorable visits did not come from when she was a coach, however. They happened when she was a gymnast.
“When I was an athlete as an elite, the lights went out in the middle of my beam routine in Georgia, the lights went out in Georgia,” Duckworth said. “…As an athlete, we won SECs my freshman year there. We’ve had a lot of success in that arena.”
Alabama’s meet against No. 8 Georgia marks its return to SEC play after a home meet against Boise State. Duckworth and the Crimson Tide are trying to ride a recent hot streak. Even though Alabama fell to No. 6 in the rankings based on their scores, Alabama has won three straight meets.
Alabama has had recent success against Georgia, even on the road. The Crimson Tide has won two in a row against Georgia, including a road win in its last trip to Stegeman Coliseum in 2015. The Crimson Tide has also defeated Georgia two of its last three meets that have taken place in Athens.
“They draw a big crowd. So, if we use that to help influence us, and then continue to move to SECs…that’s very valuable,” said sophomore Ari Guerra.
This meet marks Alabama’s first competition in March. Duckworth stresses the importance of the two spring months, March and April. In fact, she harps that championships are won in these months.
A road, SEC meet is almost the perfect environment for a team looking to prepare for the conference meet in two weeks. When the team travels to Jacksonville, Fla. for the SEC Championship, it will have to deal with opposing fans.
“It will be good to get used to a different atmosphere,” said sophomore Abby Armbrecht. “We really need to excel at that. It will feel almost like postseason. Its an SEC rivalry and that is always very exciting so that adrenaline should be there.”
Finding consistency before postseason hits can be tough, especially in gymnastics. All gymnasts need to be clicking at the same time in order to put together a strong meet. For Alabama, it all starts in the gym. The attitude seems to shift as its bigger goals draw closer.
“We get really excited about postseason and the adrenaline kind of starts to hit,” Armbrecht said. “January and February are all about building but we also have to rest our bodies and make sure we are good to go for March and April. We are just working on peaking at the right time.”
One thing Alabama wants to focus on the details. The team feels that it has put together big performances, but it’s all about tweaking those for its big meets coming up.
The team wants to be firing on all cylinders, and some of that has to do with chemistry. Alabama will travel to Georgia by bus, an activity that Duckworth says the team looks forward to.
“There’s always a lot of fun memories created on the bus trip,” Duckworth said. “I personally love competing in Stegeman Coliseum.
Alabama will face off against Georgia on the SEC Network at 1 p.m. CT.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports