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'Bama bubble' key as gymnastics faces UK

The gymnastics looks to keep energy going as they travel to Kentucky on Friday. CW | Pete Pajor

Kayla Montgomery

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Looking to keep the energy going, the Alabama gymnastics team will travel to Lexington, Kentucky for its second road meet of the season to take on the Wildcats Friday at 6 p.m. CT.

Coach Dana Duckworth said while the win over Florida is an accomplishment, the amount of energy her team brought to the floor last Friday was also important and is the aspect that will best serve the team as it travels 
to Kentucky.

“I think that everyone wants to focus on the fact that we won, and that’s awesome, but there are two things that I was more impressed with,” she said. “One, what we performed and practiced in the gym translated into the meet on Friday evening. Also, number two, internally, some things that went on within our team – some camaraderie, some unity – I’m more impressed with what happened behind the scenes and I think that’s going to carry us very well into the next part of the season.”

Duckworth said the change in environment will be a challenge for the team, but one it can overcome. At home the team competes before 12,000-plus fans each week, but on the road, crowd sizes vary, leaving less fan energy for the team to draw from. Instead, the team will have to rely on what the gymnasts called their ‘Bama bubble,’ focusing on what’s going on within the team.

“We have to anticipate that there will not be great crowd,” Duckworth said. “Now, if they have a bunch, it will be icing on the cake. But what we have to practice and what we’re going to expect is a very small crowd. The only way you overcome that is stay in your ‘Bama bubble’ and create your own energy and your own excitement.”

As part of the plan to keep spirits high, Duckworth said the lineup this week will change. The new lineup, though, she is keeping a surprise.

“We’re going to change the lineup up this week because I think sometimes when you have some of those athletes that haven’t competed in a while, it’s very easy for the team to get behind that athlete and really push, and that naturally creates energy and excitement,” she said.

Junior Lauren Beers, who competed in her first all-around in the victory over Florida, said the smaller crowds that come with travel are also a factor in establishing and maintaining team energy. But, Beers said, if the team stays within its “Bama bubble,” things will go well, especially after the team achieved a new level of chemistry against Florida.

“This past week was really great with that. We made a lot of improvements, especially from Arkansas,” Beers said. “Kentucky is normally a lot smaller of a crowd than we have here so it will be a true test of how well we’re doing with fixing that, but we’re just going to practice in here and I think Friday will be no problem 
with that.”

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'Bama bubble' key as gymnastics faces UK