By (Ben Stansell)

The Alabama gymnastics team’s motto, “The Power of One,” has already been put to the test just weeks into the Crimson Tide’s 2018 season.

The night before Alabama’s opening meet against the University of Michigan, senior Mackenzie Brannan fell ill. Brannan’s unexpected illness forced head coach Dana Duckworth to insert senior Jennie Loeb into the uneven bars lineup. It was Loeb’s first time competing on the bars in an official meet.

Channeling her power of one, Loeb stepped up and earned a 9.8 for her routine.

Facing off against rival Georgia a week later, Alabama had to employ its rallying cry once again. After freshman Lexi Graber landed awkwardly during her vault routine, injuring her right knee, junior Abby Armbrecht took her place on the beam two events later.

Like Loeb a week earlier, Armbrecht rose to the occasion, posting a 9.85 and helping Alabama topple the Dawgs for the sixth consecutive time.

Alabama’s “The Power of One” mantra encourages each gymnast to focus on her personal ability and how she can utilize that ability to help the team achieve its goals. Both Loeb’s and Armbrecht’s performances were examples of how the motto manifests itself during competitions.

The idea of “The Power of One,” which promotes the idea that any gymnast can be called on at any given time, was not born overnight. It was an attitude developed over time during the Crimson Tide’s countless practices.

“I feel like we do a really good job at mentally getting them ready for that,” Duckworth said. “Verbally talking about it and then physically trying to set up environments in intrasquads and such where I can create an environment – ‘[If] Nickie’s sick she can’t go. Okay, boom you’re going in.’”

Not only did the team slogan help Alabama in each of its first two meets, but it is also helping the Crimson Tide build depth that may be critical later on in the season.

“I think that just having those two meets back to back just shows that we’re continuously growing our depth,” senior Kiana Winston said. “It really just shows how much more depth we can have by just letting everyone know in the gym that we are pushing each other to be the best.”

The Crimson Tide will need to rely on its depth again this Friday when it takes on no. 1 ranked LSU in Baton Rouge. With Graber being held out by Duckworth for precautionary reasons, Armbrecht will most likely be called on to compete in her place on beam for the second consecutive meet.

LSU, who finished second in the NCAA rankings in 2017, is hungry to take on Alabama in front of a sold-out crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Alabama is not shying away from the potentially hostile environment. Instead, the Crimson Tide is relishing the opportunity to take on the top ranked Tigers in one of the country’s best gymnastic arenas.

“I think it’s kind of nice when you know people are rooting against you,” Armbrecht said. “I think we’re going to thrive off of having that big competition.”

Alabama is hoping that its second road trip of the year will yield a different result than its first, a 196.200-195.675 loss to now no. 3 ranked Michigan.

“I expect this road trip to be different,” Winston said. “Knowing that we’ve already had one under our belt, we can just, we can go up from here.”

So far this season, “The Power of One” mantra has held strong for Alabama, but it will receive its biggest test yet against LSU. Whether it passes or not will not be determined by the outcome of the meet – it will be decided by how each Alabama gymnast harnesses her power to help the team.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports