Dana Duckworth knew exactly what she was doing when she planned out this season’s Alabama gymnastics schedule. The back-to-back quad meets weren’t a happy coincidence. They were, in fact, very much intentional.
It’s called being proactive.
“In my mind, start the season the way we want to end the season,” said Duckworth, who’s entering her fifth season as head coach. “That’s two nights in a row with quad meets.”
Although there will technically be a week in between the Crimson Tide’s first and second meet, the thought is there.
The NCAA’s new championship format goes into effect this year. Instead of 12 teams being split into two semifinal sessions, only eight teams will be divided in half. The top two from each session then advance to the final night of the national championships and compete for the ultimate title.
Each semifinal session and the finale will consist of four teams.
“A quad meet moves differently than just a two-team meet,” Alabama senior Abby Armbrecht said. “There’s not as much waiting around. Everyone is competing at the same time. It’s a lot more hectic in there.
“I think it’s going to be to our advantage to get that experience in early.”
Practicing it is one thing. Executing is another.
During a quad meet, all four events – each with six competitors – happen simultaneously. There are no byes. The tricky part is routines vary in length. While uneven bars and vault go by rather quickly, balance beam and floor exercise take longer. Teams, depending what apparatus they are at, will therefore be waiting on each other.
“In our practices, we have created some gaps where someone will warm up and have to stand around for a while,” Duckworth said. “They’ll have to keep themselves warm, adjusted and ready, then we touch and go. We’ve done that basically PDR – practice, drill, rehearse.”
Alabama’s last quad meet was Feb. 20, 2016 at Penn State. Denver and Cornell were also there. The Crimson Tide finished first.
Both of Alabama’s regular-season quad meets this year are filled with nonconference opponents again. Southeast Missouri, Northern Illinois and Temple will be in Tuscaloosa for Friday’s meet at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum. Michigan, Denver and Bowling Green are set for next weekend.
Only two of the eight Southeastern Conference teams do not have a quad meet set up for 2019, and they are Auburn and Florida. Like Alabama, Missouri opens up with one. LSU, Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas have theirs later on.
The new championship format is already creating postseason worries.
“Every single meet, treat it as a championship meet and put it all out there,” Duckworth said. “No regrets every week, and that will take care of itself.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.