Meetings, in the right context, can be one of the largest necessary evils in sports. The Alabama football team held an impromptu meeting to correct practice energy before the BCS National Championship Game, and struggling professional teams are littered with them in an attempt to right the ship.
But the Alabama gymnastics team, standing a 3-0 and No. 5 in the nation with an average of margin of victory of 2.415, called a meeting of its own after a 196.575-194.800 win over Kentucky.
“We had a meeting on Sunday to pull ourselves together and tell ourselves what we need to work on, what we need to fix,” said junior Kim Jacob, winner of the all-around in all three meets this season. “I think this week’s really going to be a turning point for us.”
The Crimson Tide is in no need for an epiphany in one event, as it is ranked in the top 10 in every individual event. What Alabama seeks is the complete package: piecing together great performances in all four events in the same meet.
Against Kentucky, Alabama was great on both the uneven bars and the floor exercise, counting two 9.9s and one 9.875 in both events to score a 49.4 and 49.350, respectively, but counted a fall on balance beam. Alabama had similar struggles on floor the meet before against LSU.
“I think we’ve improved every meet, but we still have a lot of room to improve,” Jacob said. “We had a good start, but we haven’t hit all four events yet, and this week we’ve been working hard to do that.”
However, the trajectory of the team right now could be according to plan. It seemed to work for both of Alabama’s national championship season in 2011 and 2012.
When asked when Alabama pieced together a complete meet last year, Ashley Sledge said, “Last year, probably at the NCAA Regional in Seattle.”
“We put a great meet together and just continued on through national championships,” she said. “That’s the beauty of our sport: we can have this build-up. While other sports have to stay there all season long, we can experiment and land at the top when we need to be at the top.
“I would say that this is kind of where we’re supposed to be right now. We don’t want to be at the top of our game in January; we want to be there in April. Whatever we have to do to get that perfect spark, we’ll do it.”
This Friday would be a good time for that spark, as Alabama travels to Athens to face the Georgia Gym Dogs. Georgia enters the meet ranked No. 2 in the nation on uneven bars and in a tie for fourth in vault.
“Georgia is always ready to make a statement against us,” said Jacob, who visited both schools while being recruited. “It’s a huge rivalry, we always have a lot of fun going there. It’s going to be a hard meet so we need to come bringing our A-game.”
Contributed by Brett Hudson