The leotard Alabama gymnast Abby Armbrecht will wear Friday at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, is a surprise. She picked it out herself. Rightly so, considering Armbrecht is the only member of the Crimson Tide who will get to wear it.
Alabama, as a whole, did not advance and won’t be competing.
“I’m the only person representing my team and I want to represent Alabama in the best way I possibly can,” Armbrecht said. “But it’s going to be sad not having my team with me.”
Armbrecht qualified as an individual event specialist out of the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional in Michigan. She had the best overall floor exercise score among gymnasts whose teams did not move on. She earned three 9.9s and a 9.95 from the four judges.
The other floor qualifiers — each from a different regional — are Florida’s Trinity Thomas, Arkansas’ Sophia Carter and Kentucky’s Sidney Dukes. Those three and Armbrecht will then be up against competitors from the eight teams still in contention for the championship — Oklahoma, Georgia, Denver, Oregon State, UCLA, LSU and Michigan, which Armbrecht will rotate with in the first session at noon (ESPN2) in the Fort Worth Convention. So, total, there will be anywhere between 44 and 52 gymnasts vying for the floor title — five or six per team and the four individuals.
UA coach Dana Duckworth letting Armbrecht decide on more than just her leotard. It’s going to be Armbrecht’s decision whether she throws a double layout on her first tumbling pass. This season was the first time she ever competitively performed an E-level pass.
“She is training the double layout, and the double layout looks really good to me in the pit,” Duckworth said. “But she does sometimes change it when she gets on the (podium) floor. So the first priority is keeping her safe. The second priority is I think she’ll need the E pass to win.”
The other option is a D-level double pike, which Duckworth is confident the judges will also love. It’s just 0.1 bonus rather than 0.2. But there are enough bonuses built into Armbrecht’s routine it’ll be a 10.0 start value regardless. That’s why Duckworth is ultimately leaving it up to Armbrecht.
Well, and because this is going to be the senior’s last meet.
“Since I love that routine so much, I want to compete it,” Armbrecht said. “I want to compete it the best I can for my team.”
Armbrecht won’t technically be alone Friday. Of course her coaches will be alongside her, but fellow seniors Ariana Guerra and Angelina Giancroce also booked flights and bought tickets to support Armbrecht. This is it for all of them.
“It was my dream for so long to come to Alabama,” said Armbrecht, from Mobile. “I mean, I always came to the camps growing up and I just always pictured myself being here. I wouldn’t change a thing about how everything went.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.