Jan. 18, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -
A week after posting its best opening score in school history, the No. 3 ranked Alabama gymnastics team experienced an off night at the Ozone Collegiate Classic in Knoxville, Tenn., finishing second to Nebraska by two tenth of a point and ahead of Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky. Alabama posted a 196.050 to Nebraska's 196.250 while the Wildcats scored a 194.650.
"This was definitely a different environment for the team and while we had some great performances, we struggled, not with falls, but with small errors that cost us in our scoring potential," UA coach Sarah Patterson said. "It cost us a point from last week. Our fourth event was our best event. We stuck five out of six vaults and we're going take that and move forward into next week."
Freshman Katie Bailey led the way for the Tide with a 39.150 in the all-around.
"Katie Bailey was very consistent tonight and I think her performance was every bit as good as last week if not better," Patterson said. "Nobody was perfect tonight, but this team will use will use this to make us better. The competition will continue to be this close throughout the rest of the season."
"Overall, we had too many 9.775 scores tonight," Patterson said. "We have to do the things that will add a tenth to each score to put us in that 9.875 or 9.9 range."
Alabama was without All-American and NCAA vault champion Diandra Milliner, who was held out as a precaution after warm-ups.
"We missed Kayla Williams in the first meet and this week Diandra Milliner pulled a muscle during warm-ups and was a little sore," Patterson said. "I felt like from a strategic standpoint this was not the time to push a nagging injury like that. We have depth and people stepped in."
After struggling in spots through its first three rotations, the Crimson Tide closed strong with a 49.425 on the vault led by sophomore Lauren Beer's 9.95 in the anchor position. Junior Kaitlyn Clark led the rotation off with a 9.875, a score matched by senior Sarah DeMeo and Bailey.
Alabama scored a 49.000 on the uneven bars, led by a 9.875 from Clark. Bailey, DeMeo and senior Kim Jacob all scored 9.775 on the bars while freshman Amanda Jetter added a 9.8.
"Sarah led us off the uneven bars routine with a great routine," Patterson said. "That was a bar routine that she became an All-American with, but we were in a tight judging environment. I think they were right on, they just started at a lower point. That is why I always tell our athletes to focus on the performance not the score. I think Sarah is a perfect example of that. Her routine was better this week than it was last, but her score was lower. Mentally, our ladies have to release that and focus on the performance, that's something we're going to work on this week."
On the balance beam, Alabama totaled a 48.850 led by a 9.825 from freshman Aja Sims. On the floor exercise, Sims again led the way, scoring 9.8 to pace the Tide to a 48.775 team score.
"Aja Sims did an amazing job tonight," Patterson said. "She was our high scorer on the balance beam and she stepped in on the floor exercise and was our high score there. I can't say enough about her resilience, being a freshman and stepping up to the plate like she has after being here less than a month."
Junior Lora Leigh Frost and Jetter both scored 9.775 on the floor, tying for the Alabama's second highest mark of the night on that event.
"Amanda Jetter did a great job again tonight stepping in on the balance beam and the floor exercise," Patterson said. "And that was Lora Leigh's first routine of the season and she led us off on the floor."
Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum next Friday for its 10th annual Power of Pink meet, when it will face Arkansas starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the Tide's home meets and the SEC and NCAA Championships are on sale through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, and online at RollTide.com. Fans can keep up with the Tide via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube by following BamaGymnastics.