Feb. 21, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
The No. 4 ranked Alabama gymnastics team travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on No. 19 Arkansas Friday at 7 p.m. CT. The Crimson Tide comes into the meet after posting a season-beat 197.650 to beat Auburn last Friday. The Tide's mark was also the highest in the nation last week.
"I think we have been so close to having that kind of performance for a couple of weeks," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "I really thought we were going to have that kind of performance the week before and they were disappointed when we didn't. They came in and worked really hard last week and it paid off. We're not perfect yet, but I'm really proud of how they stepped up against Auburn."
After posting a trio of 9.9s against Auburn, senior Ashley Sledge was named the Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Week on Tuesday. She posted season-high scores of 9.9 on the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise against the Tigers. Fellow senior Marissa Gutierrez, sophomores Kayla Williams and Kaitlyn Clark and freshman Lauren Beers all equaled or bettered career-high scores against the Tigers.
"We've kept it going," Patterson said. "They came in this week and have worked exceptionally hard. They aren't settling for where they were the other night. I think it was Becca (Alexin) that said, `We're going to use this meet [against Auburn] as a springboard to the rest of the season.'"
Friday's meet in Fayetteville will be Alabama's seventh meet of the season and seventh against Southeastern Conference competition. It is also the Tide's fourth road meet of the season. Arkansas, coming off back-to-back losses on the road to No. 8 LSU and No. 1 Florida, is 1-2 in home meets this season and 1-5 overall.
The Tide last competed against Arkansas in the 2012 NCAA Championships Super Six Team Final. Alabama won its sixth national title with a season-best score of 197.850, while the Razorbacks took home sixth, posting a 196.300. However, Patterson said posting a high score on the road is not the focal point of the team this week.
"A big road score would be helpful, but you can't ever focus just on the scores because you could get in there and the judges could be really tight, even if you have a great performance," Patterson said. "We have to focus on our landings, what we're doing and how we are hitting our routines."
Saturday's meet will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN2 on a tape delayed basis. It will be broadcast live on WVUA-Radio 90.7 FM in the Tuscaloosa area as well as on the internet via wvuafm.ua.edu. Fans can follow along via Twitter @BamaGymnastics and on Facebook at BamaGymnastics. Live scoring and a link to the radio broadcast will also be available on RollTide.com.