Nickie Guerrero keeps forgetting how far along the No. 6 University of Alabama gymnastics team is in its season. Every time she looks at the schedule, it’s a reality check.
Above all, there’s one other thing sticks out most to the junior.
“Wow,” Guerrero said. “We’ve only competed at home twice.”
Of the Crimson Tide’s seven meets so far, only two have been in Coleman Coliseum. That’s about to change. Three of Alabama’s four final regular season meets are in Tuscaloosa.
It all starts with No. 17 Auburn on Friday. Boise State comes to town the following week. Then, after returning from a road trip, Alabama hosts Iowa State as the last hurrah before postseason.
“There’s nothing like a home meet,” junior Kiana Winston said. “I love home because of our crowd. We just feed off their energy way better than we feed off our tiny crowds in different places.”
Rightly so, too.
Compared to any arena in the nation, Coleman Coliseum is No. 2 in attendance. It has held an average of 13,462 people and a high of 14,423. Utah is No. 1 with a 15,035 average and 15,326 high.
The Crimson Tide looks forward to being home for its fans, but it’s also a sigh of relief. No travel means no extra stress.
“When does Alabama gymnastics do their best?” UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. “It’s when we’re loose and chill. Doesn’t mean we’re not focused.”
They’ll have to be. This marks the second time Alabama and Auburn will face off. The Crimson Tide won the first showdown by 1.175, but that’s not reflective of how the meet unfolded. Multiple falls plagued both team, but in the end, the Tigers’ were more costly.
Since that was the annual Elevate the Stage meet, it didn’t count toward conference play. Otherwise, Alabama is 2-3 in the SEC.
“That’s really contributed to our rollercoaster of a season,” Guerrero said. “But I know what we’re capable of. I know our team knows what we’re capable of.”
Last time it was home, Alabama showed its potential, posting a season-high 197.825 against Florida. It was the annual Power of Pink meet, which fueled the Crimson Tide’s fire. Competing for something bigger than itself provides the team an extra incentive.
This time, it’s the alumni meet.
“We’re representing them,” Winston said. “To be able to go out there and show them that we’re still protecting the legacy they started, it means the world.”
No. 17 Auburn at No. 6 Alabama
When: Friday at 7: 30 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 3-4, SEC 2-3; Auburn 0-7, SEC 0-4
TV: SEC Network