Jan. 25, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Al a. - In front of a sold-out crowd of 15,075 fans that were mostly dressed in pink for Alabama gymnastics' ninth-annual Power of Pink meet, the Crimson Tide beat No. 15 Kentucky, 196.575-194.8.
Prior to the meet, Alabama honored 18 breast cancer survivors as part of its breast cancer awareness initiative. Each survivor was paired with a Tide gymnast and the pair was announced in the spotlight with the fanfare of fireworks usually reserved just for the gymnasts.
"What touched me the most was when they asked - not just the 18 survivors we had down on the floor - all breast cancer survivors to stand and then all cancer survivors to stand," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "To see the number of people that have battled, I think it's amazing."
Also among those that packed the Coliseum Friday night were more than 70 past Alabama gymnasts who gathered for Alumni Night. That total included members of the 1988 team, who were celebrating the 25th anniversary of Alabama's first NCAA and SEC championships.
The Tide, now 3-0-0 overall and in Southeastern Conference competition, was led by junior Kim Jacob who won her third consecutive all-around, this time with a 39.275.
"It was such an honor just to represent all the survivors out there and all the people with breast cancer," Jacob said. "So no matter how we did, it was just a great meet to get out there and do it for them. I think we took some major steps forward - we still have a lot of room to improve - but it was great."
Alabama started off with a solid 49.175 on the vault led by 9.875s from senior Ashley Sledge and junior Diandra Milliner. On the uneven bars, the Tide came away with a season-best 49.4, with Jacob and senior Ashley Priess pacing the Tide with matching 9.9s.
Sophomore Kayla Williams scored a 9.9 to lead the way on the balance beam, though Alabama scored a 48.65 as a team after falls in its opening and closing routines.
"There were a lot of highlights this evening and certainly Kayla on balance beam was amazing," Patterson said.
After its balance beam stumble, the Tide rebounded on the floor exercise, scoring a season-best 49.350, led by Jacob's career-best 9.925.
"We still weren't perfect, but what I did like is that tonight we finished it on floor," Patterson said. "Last week, we struggled a little bit on floor exercise and, even though we had some problems, it's great to see your athletes come back and finish things off."
After back-to-back meets at home over the last two weeks, Alabama returns to the road for its next two meets, traveling to Georgia next Saturday for a 4 p.m. ET meet followed by a trip to Gainesville, Fla., where the Tide will take on the Florida Gators on Friday, Feb. 8.