LEXINGTON, Ky. The No. 3 ranked Alabama Gymnastics team posted its third consecutive 196-plus score to defeat Kentucky here in Memorial Coliseum tonight, downing the Cats 196.300-193.250.
“I thought we were very consistent tonight, very solid,” Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. “Our team quote before the meet had a lot to do with meeting challenges and we certainly did that. It was a total team effort out there. Kayla Hoffman could not go in all-around for the first time this season. She has been sick since Wednesday and we felt it best to hold her out. Brittany Magee stung her ankle and took her out of the balance beam lineup where Ashley O’Neal and Morgan Dennis stepped in. It was nice to see people step in at the last moment and do a nice job.”
Alabama now goes to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference while Kentucky falls to 1-2 and 1-1.
Dennis, a sophomore, won the all-around with a 39.425 while sophomore Kassi Price was second at 39.175. Dennis also tied for first on the floor exercise with Kentucky’s Heather Hite. Hoffman, a freshman, won her third straight vault title while junior Terin Humphrey won the uneven bars and sophomore Ricki Lebegern took top honors the balance beam.
“I thought Morgan had a great night in the all-around,” Patterson said. “I think she got some confidence after her performance on the balance beam. Ricki is another one who gained a great amount of confidence tonight after starting us off with a 9.9 on the vault. That’s the kind of performance we need going into next week’s Georgia meet. Kaitlin White and Morgan both upgraded their floor routines this week in preparation for next week.”
With the Kentucky meet in the books, the “Countdown to a Showdown” begins as Alabama returns home to face its arch-rival, the three-time defending NCAA Champion Georgia Bulldogs, Friday, Feb. 1. Tickets are on sale through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum and online at RollTide.com.
For the second straight week, Alabama closed out the night with a solid balance beam set, scoring a 49.000 behind Lebegern’s 9.875 and Dennis’ 9.85. O’Neal scored a 9.775 and Price and sophomore Amanda Montgomery both scored 9.75. Kentucky finished up the night on the floor exercise with a 49.100.
Humphrey, who has been struggling with a sore back, returned to the uneven bars lineup, leading the Tide to a 49.225 team score with a meet best 9.9. Price scored a 9.875, Hoffman a 9.85 and Dennis went 9.825. Kentucky started the night off with a 48.475 vault score.
On the vault, Alabama posted a season-best 49.125 after scoring matching 48.975s in the first two meets of the year. Lebegern got Alabama off to a strong start, scoring a 9.9. Hoffman posted the Tide’s top vault score of the night, posting a season-best 9.925, while Dennis scored a 9.85. The Cats posted a 48.5 on the uneven bars.
Dennis led the Tide to a 48.950 team score on the floor exercise, matching her season-best with a 9.9 in the anchor spot. Price and Lebegern scored 9.825 while White came away with a 9.775. Kentucky posted a 47.35 on the balance beam.
Patterson used the meet to shuffle her lineup a bit. O’Neal competed in the balance beam and vault lineup for the first time this season while Dennis, after going exhibition on the beam the first two meets of the season, went in the competitive lineup tonight. Freshman Megan Mashburn made her first appearance Crimson Tide appearance with an exhibition vault.
“I told the ladies tonight anybody can get excited about competing at home in front of a packed arena,” Patterson said. “But it’s paying attention to the day-to-day tasks and continuing to improve as team that builds a championship team in the end.