Running the Gauntlet: Gymnastics emerges from bye week poised for Georgia 

From now on, every detail matters.

No. 6 Alabama begins a second-half Goliath-like schedule on Friday, Feb. 12, against longtime rival, the No. 13 Georgia Bulldogs. 

The program’s road to its 10th conference championship won’t get any easier after Georgia, as its three remaining regular-season opponents reside ranked in the top five: No. 2 LSU, No. 5 Arkansas and a season finale against top-ranked Florida. 

Head coach Dana Duckworth and her team intend to have a more focused performance in its upcoming meet in Athens. 

“We are focused on going to Athens starting on bars, getting a great away experience and continue to show what we are made of,” Duckworth said in a press conference this week. 

Alabama is coming off its bye week but did not skip a beat in preparation. The team completed a regular week of training in the gym, where they focused on small details. The team will have to execute seamlessly when competing against top talent in the coming weeks. 

“The ladies have been very focused and have worked really hard,” Duckworth said. “We were working on the details and getting that half tenth back.”

Duckworth did not only see the bye week as a time for the team to hone its skills, but also a time of reflection. Each gymnast has spent time reflecting on what she has done successfully, where improvements need to be made and analyzing its past performances through film. Sophomore Makarri Doggette expressed that this time has allowed everyone to “focus on themselves and build confidence.”

Success starts within. There’s no room for doubt in the coming weeks. Duckworth acknowledged that the gymnasts understand what it will take to come out of each meet victorious. 

“I feel as we go into the back half of the season our ladies know what they are capable of,” Duckworth said. “We are going to continue to fight on every single minute detail.”

Despite the self-belief of the team, a big question still looms: When will the team make a score of 197? A score of 197 has also been out of the reach for the Georgia Bulldogs. 

But Alabama is ranked higher than Georgia on each event, with its best nationally ranked event coming on the balance beam and floor at eighth. 

Duckworth focused on the bright side in Monday afternoon’s press conference. Despite not having a score of 197, she said, the team has had bright spots in each event. Alabama’s highest event scores, 49.425, come on both the uneven bars and balance beam. 

In each meet of the season thus far, Alabama had to compete under pressure following a fall. Duckworth’s goal for the team is to “hit 24-for-24 performances.” It will be important for Alabama to not put any added pressure on itself in meets that come down to the last couple performances. 

The meet against Georgia on the road does not change the mentality for Alabama. The team understands what it will need to focus on in order to leave Athens undefeated. 

“It does not matter to us if we are home or away because we have the same mindset,” junior Emily Gaskins said. 

First vault is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT and the meet will air on the SEC Network.