March 12, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
The No. 4 ranked Alabama gymnastics team closes out its regular season Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a tri-meet featuring No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 26 North Carolina in Coleman Coliseum.
In addition to being the Crimson Tide's home and regular season finale, it will also be "Senior Night" with Alabama paying tribute to Brittany Magee, Amanda Montgomery and Ashley O'Neal throughout the night.
All three seniors are Scholastic All-Americans and have played an important role in the Tide's fortunes during their careers, helping the Tide to three consecutive NCAA Regional Championships and finishing as high as third at the NCAA Championships in their first three seasons.
"This promises to be a special night," Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. "Brittany, Amanda and Ashley have meant so much to this team and our program. It's hard to believe they are seniors. It's also hard to believe we're already at the end of the regular season."
Friday won't be the seniors' last meet in Coleman Coliseum though. Alabama plays host to NCAA North East Regional Championship Saturday, April 4. The regional is the gateway to the NCAA Championships and will feature six of the nation's top-36 teams, but the pressure of competing against top-tier teams won't be new to the Tide.
"We've had a challenging schedule, there is no doubt about that," Patterson said. "Oklahoma will be the third top-10 team we've faced in the past two weeks. It's been tough, but it has also prepared us for the postseason. We won't be looking over our shoulder at all. We've been tested every week. We have faced very tough competition and it's made us better."
Over the last 14 days, Alabama beat No. 3 Stanford and then No. 5 Auburn, both in Tuscaloosa, as well as splitting with Penn State and Ohio State, ranked 15th and 18th respectively this week, on the road.
And on Friday, the Tide takes on the Sooners, who were among the final 12 teams at last year's NCAA Championships and finished ahead of the Tide at the 2007 national championships, and UNC. Oklahoma's top two scores of the season, including a 197.175, have come on the road. The Tarheels are also a hot team right now, coming into this weekend's meet after scoring their season high their last time out.
Oklahoma is led by junior Hollie Vise, who is sixth on the balance beam and 19th on the uneven bars nationally this week while the Tarheels are led by junior Christine Nguyen, who is ranked 13th on the balance beam.
Fans will be able to take advantage of the Family Fun Pack again this Friday. You'll be able to get four tickets, four hot dogs and four cokes all for $20. Tickets are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or online at RollTide.com.