Teams: Southeast Missouri, Northern Illinois, Temple at No. 6 Alabama
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Season opener for all teams
There’s no place like home.
And for the first time in since 2015, Alabama gymnastics opens its season at home in Coleman Coliseum. Three years elsewhere doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s just enough that none of the gymnasts on this 2019 team has experienced an opener at home.
“Every year that I’ve been here, we’ve started away,” UA senior Abby Armbrecht said. “So we’re really excited to start at home because I love competing at Coleman. It’s my favorite thing ever.
“It’s crazy, like preseason goes so fast and the season is finally here.”
It’s starting off with a bang, too.
Alabama is participating in a quad meet. Southeast Missouri, Northern Illinois and Temple will all be in Tuscaloosa on Friday. UA hasn’t hosted more than one team during the regular season since 2004, when Super Six Challenges (2000-07) were still a thing. It’ll do so again next weekend with yet another home quad meet.
“I keep telling the ladies, we aren’t competing against anybody in these first two meets,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said. “We’re competing against what we are honing in on. We are competing against how far this team has come.”
The Crimson Tide ended last season ranked eighth in the country, its lowest finish since 2007 when it was ninth. Alabama posted a season-high 197.525 but averaged a 196.835. It closed out fifth on the uneven bars, sixth on both vault and balance beam and then 11th on the floor exercise.
Right now, UA is sixth overall in the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women preseason poll. Not one of this weekend’s nonconference opponents made the 25-team cut.
“We really try to focus on ourselves,” Armbrecht said. “I don’t even know that much about the other SEC teams for this year. We’ve just really been trying to stay in our Bama bubble.”
That Bama bubble currently consists of three seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen. The rookies alone provide about 10 new routines for the Crimson Tide. Almost everyone has a new routine for floor, the only event gymnasts can really personalize with their own music.
Since 1979, Alabama is 59-11-1 in season openers and 49-2-1 in home openers.
All of the action will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online and through the Alabama Ticket Office: $10 adult and $5 youth. UA students get in for free with an Action Card.
“It’s the most fun, family-affordable Friday you can ask for,” Duckworth said. “You can’t go to the movies for that price. … Yes, I think it’s the only place you want to be on Jan. 4 because what else is going on? Nothing. Alabama gymnastics.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.