Brandi Personett kicks in her sleep. Just ask Susan Jackson.
Jackson is obsessed with Cookie Crisps. Just ask Personett.
Each could tell you something about the other nobody else knows. That's what happens after spending an entire summer together as teenagers in a Florida hotel room. With a single bed. For three people (Personett's mother was the third).
"That's probably the most fun summer I've ever had," Personett said.
"We were definitely so goofy together," Jackson said. "We had a real good time."
That summer is a distant memory, though, as the two have since gone their separate ways. Jackson signed with LSU, Personett with Penn State. But they will have time to catch up this weekend, when two of the nation's top all-arounders will be in Rec Hall.
Jackson's Tigers, along with Oklahoma, Maryland, New Hampshire and Ohio State, will be in town this weekend, as Penn State hosts one of six NCAA regionals Saturday.
Friends outside of the gym and fierce competitors inside it, seniors Personett and Jackson will be fighting for their seasons and careers this weekend. With No. 2 Oklahoma almost assuredly advancing to the national championships, that leaves one spot left for No. 11 LSU and No. 14 Penn State.
Jackson and Personett will wage their own war for the all-around title while their teams duke it out. Jackson, the SEC Gymnast of the Year, is third in the country in the all-around with a 39.565 regional qualifying score (RQS). Personett, the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, isn't far behind, coming in fifth with a 39.545.
"It's great to see girls I have trained with at some point in my career and catch up with them," Personett said. "It'll be great to see her."
The last time they met, Jackson had the upper hand. Her Tigers finished third and earned a spot in the Super Six, sending the Lions home, and Jackson bested Personett in the all-around. This season, however, Jackson and Personett have been nearly identical. Jackson's season-high 39.725 is just 0.025 ahead of Personett's.
That shouldn't come as any surprise, though, as the two once competed for Houston's premier club, Brown's Gymnastics. Jackson was Personett's blueprint for success.
"When I first came to Texas," said Personett, a Missouri native, "Susan was one of the high-up girls and someone I looked up to. I watched her and how she worked and how she developed her skills. It definitely helped mold my gymnastics to what it is."
Jackson instantly saw the talent in Personett and noticed the improvements she made while at Brown's. When Personett tried to reach the elite level, it was Jackson who was there helping her. Working out twice a day during that summer in Florida, Jackson was there to motivate Personett.
"Watching her excel and become a better gymnast [in Florida], she definitely improved a lot," Jackson said. "She definitely improved a lot in college, too, and I've noticed it a lot on floor."
Watching Jackson, Personett knows to expect. She calls Jackson a model of consistency and knows Jackson is a shoe-in for a top-two finish in the all-around each meet. In 12 meets this season -- a total of 48 events -- Jackson has yet to fall.
"She performs with ease," she said. "She performs and you know she's gonna hit. Her consistency is one of her greatest aspects. She competes four events every weekend, and at some point the nerves are gonna get to you, but it doesn't for her."
With the exception of the few times they have run into each other at postseason meets, however, Jackson and Personett haven't seen or kept in contact with each other much since each left for college. With such a busy gymnastics schedule that nearly engulfs the entire year, the two have had trouble finding time to keep in touch. Jackson said every once in a while, she and Personett will exchange Facebook messages or she'll "stalk" her page to see what's new with her. Personett does the same. When they see each other on Saturday, memories of that Florida trip will likely be brought up on more than one occasion.
"At 15, hanging out with your best friend, nothing is going wrong," Personett said. "We got to live in fantasy land."