March 19, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 1 ranked Alabama Gymnastics team rolled to a 197.575-196.875 win over No. 10 Michigan on Senior Night in front of 13,663 fans in Coleman Coliseum. It was a season-high score for both teams.
"As a staff we have really tried to talk to the ladies tonight about using this as our dress rehearsal for the SEC Championship," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "I said if we made some mistakes what I wanted to do was to rebound back from them because this is going to be the important thing next week."
"I thought we did a good job tonight," Patterson said. "We weren't perfect. We were emotional from senior night. I think everyone's vaults were bigger than they normally are, and we had a hard time sticking out landings but the ladies did a great job coming back on the next three events."
With Friday night's attendance, Alabama set a new school and Southeastern Conference season attendance record of 13,786 fans per meet, the second highest season average in the history of collegiate gymnastics.
"I think it is just such a testimony to the fans and their affection for these athletes and the program, and I couldn't have been more excited to see this many people tonight," Patterson said. "Not for any other reason but for our seniors."
Alabama finished the night with a 49.450 score on the floor exercise, led by senior Morgan Dennis' crowd-rousing 9.950.
"It was just amazing," Dennis said of the standing ovation after her last routine in Coleman Coliseum. "I'm never going to get anything like that again and my years here have been so awesome. I love the fans and just when everyone came to their feet and started cheering, it actually hit me, that was my last routine. I went out with a great one and was just happy to finish up strong tonight."
Dennis and sophomore Ashley Priess tied for second in the all-around with scores of 39.5 while Michigan's Kylee Botterman took first with a 39.550. Dennis opened the night by winning the vault with a 9.95 while Priess won the uneven bars and balance beam with scores of 9.925 and 9.95, respectively, both of which tied her career-high marks.
"I had a couple weeks off and it definitely helped me physically, mentally, and emotionally to recharge and relight the passion for the postseason," Priess said.
Priess' winning score and senior Kassi Price's 9.9, which tied her career high, pushed the Tide to a season-high 49.425 on the balance beam. Alabama opened the meet with matching 49.35s on the vault and uneven bars. Junior Kayla Hoffman posted a season-best score of 9.9 on the floor exercise and tied her season-high of 9.9 on the uneven bars.
Alabama returns to action next Saturday when it attempts to defend its Southeastern Conference title in Jacksonville, Fla.