No. 3 Gymnastics Ready for 2013 SEC Championships

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM The SEC's Dave Baker interviews Sarah Patterson during the practice day.
The SEC's Dave Baker interviews Sarah Patterson during the practice day.

March 22, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - With the practice day behind them, the Alabama gymnastics team is ready for Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championships held in Verizon Arena at Little Rock, Ark. The Crimson Tide is in the second of two sessions and will get things started at 6 p.m. CT.

"I thought we did a good job adjusting to the equipment and the podium today," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said after the Tide's 90 minute practice. "We are the only conference in the nation that holds their championship on the podium and I think that experience is one of the reasons that we've been so good as a conference at the end of the season."

With the addition of Missouri to the SEC this year, the conference has divided the meet into two sessions for the first time in history. Alabama, ranked third nationally, is the championships' second seed and will compete against the other top 4 seeds (Florida, Georgia and LSU). Seeds 5-8, Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Missouri, will compete at 2 p.m.

With only four teams competing in each session, there will be no byes, allowing the meet to move at a faster pace. The team finishes will be determined by the each team's score in whichever round they participate in.

Alabama has faced all of the participating teams in the regular season at least once and boasts a 5-2-1 record in SEC competition. The Tide's two losses of the year came in the first half of the regular season on the road against Florida and Georgia.

The Tide has hit its stride over the second half of the regular-season, posting five straight 197-plus scores, including a season-best 197.725 at LSU on March 8. Competition will remain stiff in the nation's top conference. Six of the eight SEC teams are currently ranked in the Top 25, with Florida, Alabama and Georgia places in the top five.

"We've been on an upswing these last five or six weeks," Patterson said. "We've been getting better and better and even when we've had some come out of the lineup for one reason or another, others have stepped up so our scoring has continue to get better."

Saturday marks the second time the championship has been held in Little Rock, with the first coming in 2007 when Alabama finished third with a score of a 197.000. Alabama has won seven SEC titles, including two of the last four, as well as 23 top-2 finishes.

Alabama is led by the junior Kim Jacob, who has won the all-around in five out of the six meets that she's participated in the all-around competition. During Friday's practice day she was announced as the 2013 SEC Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year, marking the second year in a row she has earned the honor and the third consecutive time an Alabama gymnast has taken the honor. Earlier in the week she was also named to the 10th annual SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team.

The Tide's radio broadcast of the championships will be carried live over the air on WVUA-FM 90.7 and on the internet at ESPN2 and ESPNU will air the championships on a tape-delayed basis.