- No. 6 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia
- When: Sunday at 1 p.m. CT
- Where: Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia
- Records: Alabama 5-4, 3-3 SEC; Georgia 6-5, 4-2 SEC
- TV: SEC Network
If there’s one thing University of Alabama gymnastics coach Dana Duckworth has preached all season it’s that championships are won in March and April, not January and February.
Well, it’s officially March. Even the gymnasts know the first half of their game plan is just about finished.
“January and February are all about building,” sophomore Ari Guerra said. “But we also have to rest our bodies and make sure we’re good to go for March and April.”
The latter two months feature the SEC, regional and NCAA championships, but Alabama isn’t there yet. Two regular season meets stand in the way, starting with a road match-up against Georgia.
With all the hype surrounding March, the Crimson Tide actually had the first day of the month off. Its practice schedule this week was different because the meet is Sunday rather than a normal Friday slot.
There’s an extra bonus to this weekend, too.
“It’s our last away meet, so I think that will be good to get used to a different environment,” sophomore Abby Armbrecht said. “We need to excel at that.”
The Crimson Tide is 2-3 in opponents’ arenas and 3-3 in the SEC. After Sunday, the next time Alabama will compete on the road and against any conference foe will be in the SEC Championship.
This is the last test run before the real deal.
“That adrenaline should be there like postseason,” Armbrecht said.
Everything ties back to the second half of the season.
Now that it’s less than two weeks away, Duckworth’s phrase about championships resonates even more. The team knows what time of the year it is, and there’s an extra level of energy in the gym.
“It’s actually coming to life that you’re getting ready for NCAAs,” Guerra said. “Just paying a little more attention to details on every single little thing, that’s all.”
Overall, Duckworth is happy with the team is headed rather than where it is right now.
“Alabama hasn’t had the best performance yet,” Duckworth said. “We still haven’t done it. We’ve had great performances here and there, but we definitely have some room for improvement.
“I think our ladies know that, and they have to own it.”
When it comes to the rankings, there isn’t a large gap between Alabama and Georgia. The Crimson Tide is ranked sixth in the nation with a 197.085 RQS, and the Bulldogs are eighth with a 196.82 RQS.
A month has passed since Alabama scored its season-high 197.825 against Florida. Duckworth believes it’s time for the gymnasts go out there and be free – do what she knows they’re capable of.
“They have permission to be amazing,” Duckworth said.