March 23, 2013
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - After sitting in fourth place after two rotations, the No. 3 Alabama gymnastics team scored a season-best 197.800 to take second place at the Southeastern Conference Championships held at Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Ark., Saturday night, just a behind the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators.
“As a coach, I know our ladies are disappointed, but I couldn’t be more proud more proud of them,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I think if anything, this adds more fuel to the fire for our team as we continue into the championship season.”
LSU took third with a 197.7 while Georgia posted a 197.325, making these championships the highest scoring in SEC history. Alabama was led by junior Kim Jacob, who posted a career-best 39.525 in the all-around.
“I congratulate the University of Florida, they did a great job tonight, but you have to look Georgia, LSU and the whole conference,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “My hope is that these four teams are on the floor with a chance to do this one more time this season with another championship on the line.”
The Tide finished the meet with a score of 197.9, but took a one tenth deduction after Patterson discovered two UA gymnasts had gone out of order during the uneven bars rotation while reviewing the score sheet prior to signing off on it. She brought the matter to the attention of the meet referee who stated that it was up to the judges to take that deduction and they had not. Patterson however asked that the deduction be taken in the interest of fairness.
“It was the right thing to do,” Patterson said.
With the top three teams within a tenth of each other going into the final rotation, Alabama scored a season-best 49.550 on the vault to pull ahead of LSU. The Tide was paced on the vault by a 9.975 from sophomore Kayla Williams and a 9.925 from junior Diandra Milliner. Senior Marissa Gutierrez returned to the Tide’s lineup after spraining her ankle a month ago at Arkansas, scoring a 9.9 to secure the Tide’s second place finish.
“We had so many great performances, from Kayla’s 9.975 on the vault all the way through the meet, we gave ourselves every opportunity to win,” Patterson said. “I hope the ladies know that and that it shows them that on any given night, we can win a national championship.”
While the Tide got Gutierrez’s service back on one event, Patterson held senior Ashley Sledge out of the meet with a sore back, after an awkward landing during Friday’s practice day.
“We had some difficulties tonight,” Patterson said. “Yesterday during practice, Ashley Sledge tweaked her back, and it was obvious during warm-ups today, that she could not go. You take that 9.95 routine out of our lineup and it’s tough, but Kaitlyn (Clark) stepped in to lead us off and did such a great job. I think throughout, our ladies stepped in and did it for each other. “
Alabama led off with a 49.400 on the uneven bars, led by senior Ashley Priess’ 9.925. Junior Sarah DeMeo added a 9.9 while Beers and senior Becca Alexin both scored 9.875s. It was a new career-high for Beers while Priess, DeMeo and Alexin all tied their career-best marks.
The Tide also posted a 49.4 on the balance beam, led by 9.925s from Williams and Jacob. It was a career-best score for Williams. Priess finished off the Tide’s rotation with a 9.875 while sophomore Kaitlyn Clark scored added a 9.85.
Alabama combined for a season-high 49.550 on the floor exercise, led by Milliner’s 9.95, which tied for first place overall. Jacob scored a 9.925 while Beers added a 9.9, tying her career best. Priess also scored a 9.9, her season-best while sophomore Lora Leigh Frost added a season-best of her own, going 9.875
Alabama returns home to host the 2013 NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Championships on April 6 at 6 p.m. CT. Tickets are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum or online at RollTide.com.
Alabama's Top Individual Finishers: