TUSCALOOSA, Ala. For the second week in a row, the fifth ranked Alabama Gymnastics team came from behind on the last rotation to beat a top-5 team, this time upsetting the No. 3 Florida 197.225-197.125 here in Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama used a season-best score on the floor exercise to overcome a quarter of a point deficit to beat the defending Southeastern Conference Champions for the first time since the 2006 season. The Crimson Tide also posted season-best marks on the vault and balance beam. Last weekend, the Tide upended LSU in Baton Rouge, winning on the last rotation.
“We went into the last rotation just as we did at LSU last weekend, a little bit behind,” Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. “What we tried to do was just get the ladies to focus on their performance, every tenth, with chests up on their landings, staying in-bounds and no steps on tumbling.”
The win came in front a super-charged crowd of 11,864, which exploded to its feet each time the Tide nailed a floor routine, pulling ever closer and finally ahead of the Gators. Friday’s attendance marks the fourth time this season it has drawn more than 11,000 fans. The Tide’s average of 13,287 fans leads the nation by a healthy margin.
“It was absolutely amazing,” sophomore Kassi Price said of the crowd. “I don’t think we could have asked for any better. They were really getting into every performance. That got us really excited and got us ready to go out and compete our best.”
Price tied with Gator Corey Hartung for top honors on the all-around with a 39.5. It was a season best for Price. Sophomore Morgan Dennis and Ricki Lebegern also posted season best scores in the all-around with Lebegern scoring a 39.425 and Dennis posting a 39.4.
“We put 15 of the 24 routines out there by our sophomores again tonight,” Patterson said. “We’re still very young, but as a team, I think we are just starting to get it, the fact that if they perform to their best they have an opportunity to compete with the best.”
Freshman Kayla Hoffman won the vault and floor exercise, tying with Gators Ashley Reed on the vault and Hartung on the floor. Price won the balance beam and uneven bars, tying with Hartung on the bars.
Alabama posted a 49.525 on the floor exercise to win the meet, getting crowd-rocking routines up and down the lineup finishing off the meet with a string of 9.9-plus routines to seal the win. Hoffman scored a meet-best 9.95, followed by a 9.9 from Price and the clinching 9.925 from Dennis. Lebegern and senior Kaitlin White set things up with matching 9.875s. The Gators also were strong on the floor, scoring a 49.4.
“I think that’s the best floor routine that Kaitlin has done here at Alabama,” Patterson said. “And when you have a great performance, as Ricki Lebegern did, that sets the tone for the event. That was so important for us.”
Down by .125 at the halfway point in the meet, Alabama, led by a 9.9 from Price and a 9.875 from Dennis, posted a season-best 49.275 on the balance beam. The Tide’s total also included 9.85s from Lebegern and junior Brittany Magee and a 9.8 from sophomore Casey Overton in the lead-off spot. Florida scored a 49.175 on the beam.
Alabama got going with a hot start on the vault, scoring a season-best 49.450 behind a 9.95 from Hoffman and a 9.9 from Dennis. Overton started the Tide off with a 9.875, a score matched by Lebegern. Price rounded out the scoring with a 9.85. The Gators were also hot on the vault, posting a 49.525, tying its second highest score in school history.
The Tide scored a 48.975 on the uneven bars led by a 9.85 from Price and marching 9.825s from White and Lebegern. The Gators posted a 49.025 on the bars.
Alabama takes to the road next weekend, competing at Stanford on Friday and at UCLA on Sunday.