How Luisa Blanco reminds Alabama gymnastics coach Dana Duckworth of herself

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News

Luisa Blanco made history for Alabama gymnastics in 2021.

With a 9.95 in Huntsville, she won the SEC championship on the balance beam. At the NCAA meet, she scored another 9.95 on the balance beam, one of two Alabama gymnasts to win an individual title. Blanco became just the second gymnast in program history to win both an SEC title and a national title on the balance beam in the same season.

The first to do it was Alabama coach Dana Duckworth, who accomplished the feat in 1993. Duckworth sees similarities between herself and the junior star.

"Thinking of seeing myself in her and her in me, I think we both love the balance beam," said Duckworth. "When you love what you do, and you do what you love, amazing things happen. We're both perfectionists. We're both going to be our own worst critics, which can be both a blessing and a curse, but that's what makes someone great. To see Luisa Blanco anywhere inside of me is a compliment."

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No. 8 Alabama (4-4, 2-3 SEC) hosts No. 11 Missouri (7-3, 2-3) in Coleman Coliseum on Friday (5 p.m. CT, SEC Network).

However, there's more to Blanco than just the balance beam and Duckworth is well aware of the intangibles. .

"Luisa brings a fierce grace to this program," said Duckworth. "She's stunning. She's a beautiful young woman inside and out. She's a competitor. She loves to shine when the bright lights are on her. She has a relentless pursuit of excellence in everything she does. That's not only in the gym. That's in the classroom. That's in the community. That's in everything she wants to accomplish in her life. I think she's the epitome of an Alabama gymnast. All of those things."

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