April 25, 2008
ATHENS, Ga. -
After two falls on the balance beam at the NCAA Championships, the Alabama Gymnastics team bounced back strong, closing out Friday night with the highest score on any event at the competition, posting a 49.525 on the floor exercise.
"After balance beam, when we were on a bye, I said to our senior, Kaitlin (White), `I want you to go out there and finish off your career with the best routine you can do,'" Patterson said. "And I told the rest of the ladies that while we couldn't win a championship tonight, I wanted them to go out on their last event and show `Tide Pride', show that they have pride in their program. I'm just proud that they came back and showed what we are made of."
White posted a 9.85 on the floor followed by a 9.9 from sophomore Ricki Lebegern, a score matched by sophomore Kassi Price. Freshman Kayla Hoffman scored a 9.925 while sophomore Morgan Dennis closed out the rotation with a 9.95, the highest floor score of the meet.
Led by Dennis' 39.475 and Lebegern's 39.3 all-around efforts, the Crimson Tide finished sixth overall, its 24th top-6 finish in 26 years at the NCAA Championships, with a 196.125.
Georgia won the NCAA title with a 197.45 while Utah was just behind at 197.125. Stanford took third with a 196.75 followed by Florida (197.7) and LSU (196.35). It marked the first time that the Southeastern Conference, or any league, has put four teams into the six-team finals.
The Tide started off with a solid 49.1 on the vault behind Dennis' 9.9 from the anchor spot and Overton's 9.85 from the leadoff. It marked the second day in a row that Overton started the Tide's meet after leading off the balance beam and the meet on Thursday.
"We came out tonight to win," Patterson said. "And we knew when we came out a little tight on the vault that we were in a bind. We fought back on the uneven bars and then on the balance beam, our performance did surprise me because we've been so solid."
On the uneven bars, powered by a 9.9 from Price, Alabama scored a 49.075. On the balance beam, the Tide had to a count a break after O'Neal and Price came off the apparatus. Alabama scored a 48.425, led by a 9.825 from sophomore Casey Overton in the lead off and a 9.85 from Dennis in the final spot.
Dennis, Price and Hoffman will compete again on Saturday vying for individual NCAA titles starting at 5 p.m. Dennis will be looking to defend her NCAA Floor Exercise Championship while Price and Hoffman will compete on the uneven bars and vault, respectively.