March 19, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The No. 2-ranked Alabama gymnastics team won its seventh Southeastern Conference Championships in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center Saturday, outscoring the No. 1-ranked Florida Gators by a quarter of a point.
"Our focus tonight was one routine at a time," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "Our ladies really didn't focus on anything outside the team; they didn't even know until I told them that they were the SEC Champions. I hope this team knows now that they can do anything they set their mind to."
The Crimson Tide finished the meet with a 197.225 but had to wait on a bye during the championship's final rotation to learn their fate with the Gators right behind them and headed to the vault. In the end, the Gators came up just short, taking second with a 196.975, followed by Georgia in third with a 196.650.
"The thing about this team is that where we started is so far away from where are now, but it's been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of our careers," Patterson said.
Senior Kayla Hoffman, who was the SEC Scholar-Athlete and SEC Gymnast of Year, won her first SEC title, taking top honors on the vault with a 9.95. Junior Geralen Stack-Eaton, also took home conference gold for the first time, winning the balance beam and floor exercise with matching 9.925s. Hoffman and Stack-Eaton tied for third in the all-around with matching scores of 39.350.
Taking a slim lead into its final event, the vault, Alabama finished strong with a meet-best 49.5. Stack-Eaton and sophomore Marissa Gutierrez both scored 9.9s while Hoffman's 9.95 added an exclamation point to the Tide's championship efforts.
Alabama started the meet off with a 49.150 on the uneven bars led by Hoffman's 9.875 in the anchor spot and 9.85s from sophomore Ashley Sledge and freshman Sarah DeMeo. The Tide followed that up with a standout balance beam rotation, scoring a meet-best 49.225, led by Stack-Eaton's 9.925 and 9.9s from DeMeo and freshman Kim Jacob.
On the floor exercise, Stack-Eaton's 9.925 led the Tide to a 49.350. Sledge added a 9.9 while Jacob and Gutierrez both went 9.875.
Alabama returns to action at the NCAA Regional Championships which will be held April 2 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tickets are available through RollTide.com and the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum.
1. Alabama 197.225
2. Florida 196.975
3. Georgia 196.625
4. Arkansas 195.800
5. LSU 195.475
6. Auburn 195.325
7. Kentucky 193.950