“I have an idea.”
Whenever she hears those four words out of the blue, Alabama gymnastics coach Dana Duckworth knows Abby Armbrecht is nearby and wants her opinion. It normally has something to do with Armbrecht’s floor exercise routine. The two have been making tweaks to that all season.
“It’ll be something really small,” Duckworth said. “I’ll be like, ‘Abby, that looks really good,’ or I’m like, ‘No, let’s try something different.’ When we’re working on her floor routine, it’s a partnership.”
That attention to detail has paid off.
On Friday, Armbrecht will be the only member of the Crimson Tide competing at the 2019 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships semifinals at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Armbrecht qualified as an individual after having the best overall floor score at the two-day NCAA Ann Arbor Regional, where Alabama finished third as a team. She received three 9.9s and a 9.95 from the four judges on the first night of competition.
“It was definitely bittersweet, like I think that’s probably the best way to describe it,” Armbrecht said. “Obviously we were all very sad the team wasn’t going, and I would love to be going with the team right now. I think it would be so much more fun to go with the team than as an individual.
“But at the same time, it was a little crazy because I thought I was done with gymnastics and then they announced your name. It’s like, OK, I get to do this one more time. It’s almost like I’ve been give one more chance to do the sport I love.”
Because after Friday, Armbrecht’s career is over. She’s a senior.
What’s fitting? Not only is floor Armbrecht’s favorite event, but this season’s routine specifically is her favorite. Not just in college, which has featured three total. Ever.
Armbrecht loves the music – the opening is a violin remix of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” She’s comfortable with the dance – much more classical than modern. And she has developed the skills – even threw an E pass (double layout) for the first time ever in an actual meet.
“It’s just very me,” Armbrecht said. “It allows me to be to be very expressive.”
Duckworth compared Armbrecht’s routine to watching art in motion and described it as a reflection of passion.
The best Armbrecht has ever scored on floor is a 9.95, and she did that last year as a junior. This season, her highest mark is a 9.925, and she has done that twice.
Armbrecht has made a 9.9 or better in seven of the 12 meets she has done the event. She’s on a four-meet 9.9 streak.
“That’s what has evolved over time,” Duckworth said. “We’ve changed little pieces and parts of this routine literally up until now even. We changed this big finish she had after the second pass … I was like, ‘Abby, the music is bigger. Can we do something more?’ And she was always open to it: ‘Absolutely.’”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.