April 18, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- For the Alabama gymnastics team, this was the goal all along.
The Crimson Tide tied with the Florida Gators with a score of 197.650 for the top spot in the second semifinal session of the NCAA Championships, earning a berth in Saturday's Super Six Team Finals which gets underway at 6 p.m. at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center.
"Our goal at the University of Alabama is always to be on the floor the last night of the season with an opportunity to compete for a national championship," UA coach Sarah Patterson said. "Tonight we earned the right to advance to Saturday night where we'll have that chance."
For senior Kim Jacob, this wasn't the goal, but winning the NCAA All-Around Champions was a pleasant surprise.
"I'm still a little in shock," Jacob said moments after Patterson shared the championship news. "I'm still not really sure how to think. It's just an amazing way to go out my senior year and proud that I could do it for my team to move us on to the next round."
Jacob scored a 39.625 to win the all-around championship, the sixth in Tide history and first since Jeana Rice in 2004. Her title is Alabama's 25th individual NCAA title.
"I'm so happy for Kim," Patterson said. "She always flown under the radar, but she has always been a star for us and has always focused on what has been best for the team. She is a leader for us in the classroom and in the gym. To have someone like that win the all-around, it is one of the most rewarding moments of our career."
Nebraska slipped ahead of past champions Utah and UCLA for the third and final spot out the second semifinal session. Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU advanced out of Friday's first semifinal session to complete the Super Six. Alabama has now advanced to an NCAA-best 20 Super Six finals.
After getting off to a strong start on its first two events, Alabama rocked the floor exercise, posting a 49.575 behind a 9.95 from Jacob and 9.925s from sophomore Lauren Beers and senior Diandra Milliner. It was the third-highest floor total in the Tide's NCAA Championships history. The Tide then finished off the night with a 49.350 on the vault led by Beers and junior Kaitlyn Clark, who both scored 9.9s.
Alabama got things started with another strong uneven bars rotation, posting a team score of 49.375 behind Jacob's 9.925 and 9.9s from freshman Katie Bailey and senior Sarah DeMeo. The team total tied for the seventh highest in school history at the NCAA Championships.
The Tide continued to roll on the balance beam, turning in a 49.375 behind Jacob's 9.925 as well as DeMeo's 9.9 and Bailey's 9.875. It was the Tide's sixth highest beam total in its 32 NCAA Championship appearances.
The Super Six gets underway Saturday at 6 p.m. at the BJCC. Alabama begins the night on a bye before starting competiton on the floor exercise. Ticket information is available at www.gymnasticschamps.com.