TUSCALOOSA, Ala. In a sea of pink, in front of a sellout crowd, with its past looking on, the No. 4 Alabama Gymnastics team scored a season-high 196.775 to beat No. 10 Arkansas which posted a season-best mark of its own at 195.950.
“First of all, I am very proud of our team coming back and getting back on the winning track,” Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I knew when I saw the schedule and saw how well Arkansas was doing that these two meets back to back would be crucial for our team.”
It was the Crimson Tide’s fourth annual “Power of Pink” meet, designed to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer. A check for $265,000 was presented to the DCH Foundation for the Alabama Gymnastics DCH Breast Cancer Fund prior to the meet.
Alabama also introduced more than 60 alumni before the meet got underway, including members of the 1988 NCAA Championship team, celebrating its 20th anniversary this season. Coaches Sarah and David Patterson, in their 30th season at the Capstone, were also honored with a video highlighting their three-decades of leading the Tide.
“I think anytime you combine the pink meet with the alumni meet and the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1988 championship team, I think that is a lot,” Patterson said. “I know I was excited to see all those ladies come back. I wanted these ladies to make (the alumni) proud.”
It was Alabama’s second consecutive sellout of Coleman Coliseum, a first for gymnastics. The Tide’s season average of 13,761 leads the nation by more a thousand fans per meet.
Freshman Kayla Hoffman won the vault and floor exercise, while sophomore Kassi Price took top honors on the uneven bars. Arkansas’s Michelle Stout won the all-around while Casey Jo Magee won the won the balance beam.
“While we weren’t perfect tonight, I can see there is a little fatigue from the pushing of the first four or five meets, I think we made some stride forward in some places and there were some learning experiences that I think will help us down the road,” Patterson said.
Alabama closed out the night with a 49.175 on the floor exercise led by a 9.9 from Hoffman who bounced back from a two-fall performance the rotation before on the balance beam to win the floor. Sophomore Casey Overton scored a career-best 9.85 and Price tallied a 9.875. Sophomore Ricki Lebegern started the Tide off on the floor rotation with a 9.825. The Lady Razorbacks scored a 49.050 on the floor.
Led by a career-best 9.95 from Hoffman, the Crimson Tide tallied its best vault score of the season, going 49.4. Overton scored a career-best 9.875 while Lebegern posted her second 9.9 of the season. Sophomore Morgan Dennis scored her fifth consecutive 9.85 while junior Brittany Magee got the Tide started with a season-best 9.825. Arkansas scored a 49.225, its second best score in school history.
Alabama kept things rolling on the uneven bars, scoring a season-best 49.35 behind Price’s third 9.95 in five meets. Senior Terin Humphrey, limited in practice and competition by a sore back and, last week, the flu, scored a 9.9. Senior Kaitlin White scored a 9.85 while Hoffman posted a 9.875. The Lady’Backs scored a 48.525 on the bars.
Alabama scored a 48.85 on the balance beam, led by Lebegern’s 9.875. Overton led the Tide off with a 9.825 while Dennis anchored the rotation with a 9.85, tying her season best.
Alabama has next weekend off from competition before traveling to Baton Rouge, La. Feb. 22 to face LSU.