Feb. 20, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -
The No. 8 ranked Alabama Gymnastics team fell to the No. 6 Florida Gators Friday night by a score of 196.875-195.625 in front of 7,047 fans in the O'Connell Center.
Alabama enjoyed two solid rotations and one spectacular rotation through the first three rotations before hitting its worst balance beam rotation of the season with two falls and a sub-9.5 routine. The Tide's 48.125 on the balance beam pushed the Tide to its lowest overall team score of the season.
"We got in a situation where we had three great events tonight," Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. "We were right in this meet. We have not had a performance quite like that on balance beam. We struggled a little bit last week, but I really felt like we would come out and perform well. Our first three people got up and we got great routines out of them. We made a mistake, and we just seemed to get rattled in a close competition and lost our confidence."
While Patterson and company were disappointed with the overall outcome, there were definite high points in the meet, with the Tide's new-look vault lineup leading the charge. Junior Casey Overton and Hoffman both made their 2009 vault debuts and their addition paid immediate dividends. Alabama posted a 49.400 team score, its highest total of the season by a wide margin.
Junior Morgan Dennis and sophomore Kayla Hoffman shared top honors on the vault while Dennis won the floor exercise with a 9.925, tying her season-high score. Junior Ricki Lebegern led the Crimson Tide, scoring a 39.2 in the all-around.
On the vault, freshman Geralen Stack-Eaton started the Tide off by tying her career-high of 9.875, a score that Overton matched in the second spot. Freshman Ashley Priess, vaulting for just the second time this season scored her best of the season, a 9.8, followed by a 9.9 from Hoffman and a 9.85 from Lebegern. Dennis finished the rotation off with a 9.9 of her own. For Hoffman, a 2008 All-American on the vault, it was her first routine in competition this year after going through off-season shoulder surgery.
After posting Alabama's top vault effort, Dennis also led the Tide on the floor exercise, scoring a season-best 9.925 to anchor Alabama's 49.075 team effort. Alabama started the night off on the uneven bars, scoring a 49.000 led by junior Kassi Price's 9.875.
Alabama returns home next Friday for the fifth annual "Power of Pink" meet against the Auburn Tigers. Both teams will put aside their team colors to wear shades of pink in an ongoing effort to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Free tickets to the event are available now at Tuscaloosa Toyota on Skyland Boulevard.