GAINESVILLE, Fla. For three rotations here in the O’Connell Center, the No. 4 Alabama Gymnastics team, on the road for the first time this season, gave the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators all they could handle leading by more than a quarter of a point.
In the end though, a hot streak of floor exercise routines by the Gators and a trio of falls by the Tide on the balance beam gave Florida a 196.825-195.65 victory in front of a crowd of 6,074.
“We had 21 awesome routines and then we had a freshman error by Ricki Lebegern,” Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I think the biggest disappoint of the evening is that a junior and senior, Terin Humphrey and Erin Rightley didn’t finish things off for us.”
Alabama was once again led by its freshmen class, which accounted for of 11 of 24 routines. The Tide’s sophomores contributed six routines giving the underclassmen 17 of the Tide’s 24 while the juniors performed five and senior Erin Rightley went twice.
On the balance beam, sophomore Brittany Magee led the Tide off with a 9.85, followed by a 9.875 from freshman Kassi Price and a 9.825 from sophomore Ashley O’Neal. Falls from freshman Ricki Lebegern, Rightley and junior Terin Humphrey put the meet out of reach for the Tide with a 48.025 beam score. Florida scored a 49.150 on the balance beam.
“We had an opportunity to win against the No. 1 team in country and we had opportunity to have one of the top scores in country and we let is slip away,” Patterson said. “This is a good team that came on the road and I thought did an excellent job for the first 21 routines, but we must mature and learn to finish the job. We will be in this situation numerous times over the course of the season and I hope and know that we will use this as an opportunity to make us better.”
Alabama started the meet out on the uneven bars, the event that gave it trouble a week ago, scoring nearly a point better. Both Lebegern and sophomore Cassie Martin who fell against Oklahoma hit their routines tonight, scoring 9.725 and 9.825 respectively. Alabama finished off with a flurry of 9.8-plus routines to score a 49.15. Freshman Morgan Dennis, stepping in for the injured Jacqueline Shealy, scored a 9.825, followed by Price with a 9.85 and Humphrey’s 9.9 to close out the set. Florida posted a 49.050 on the uneven bars.
The Tide kept things rolling with a 49.225 on the vault, led by freshman Morgan Dennis’ 9.875 and 9.85s from Humphrey, Price and Magee. Four of Tide’s vault scores were better than a week ago. The Gators started off the night with a 49.075 on the vault.
A pair of 9.875 routines on the floor exercise by Humphrey and Price pushed Alabama to a 49.250 team score. Rightley scored a 9.85 while Lebegern and Dennis both posted 9.825s. Florida finished off the night with a 49.525 on the floor.
Next Friday, Jan. 26 Alabama returns home to face the Auburn Tigers. It will be the Crimson Tide’s “Drive 4 the Cause” meet raising awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Tickets for the event are on sale now through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) or online at RollTide.com.