Alabama Knocks Off No. 1 Ranked Oklahoma
“We are over the moon” is how Senior Ashley Sledge describes how the Alabama Gymnastics team feels after knocking off No. 1 ranked Oklahoma in Coleman Coliseum on Senior Night. Alabama closed out the regular season with a 197.525-196.900 win over the undefeated Sooners in front of 11.776 fans. It was the Crimson Tide’s fifth consecutive 197-plus score and fifth win out of five attempts at home this season.
“I thought that we did a great job in a lot of different areas, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “Our fans were incredible again tonight and I think our ladies rose to the occasion.”
Alabama started off the evening very strong, tying its season-best score on the vault posting a 49.525. Sophomore Kayla Williams and freshman Lauren Beers led on the vault with a pair of 9.95’s putting the Tide out to the early lead on the night. Alabama came into Friday’s meet ranked third in the nation on the vault and has scored fewer than 49.300 just once in the last seven meets.
Senior Ashley Sledge in her last regular season meet at Coleman Coliseum posted a career-best 9.95 to pace Alabama to a season-best 49.425 on the uneven bars. “Sledge’s bar routine was phenomenal,” Patterson said. “She set the tone for the night. I think good judges reward you whether you are first or sixth in the lineup and I think they recognized what an awesome bar routine that was.” Junior Sarah DeMeo added a 9.9 to boost Alabama to a 98.925-98.275 lead after the second rotation.
The balance beam was the only rotation on the night where Alabama looked a little weak. But that’s not because Alabama made several mistakes, but it’s more because the first two events were so strong. “I think we were pretty much on fire those first two events,” Alabama coach Sarah Patterson said. Junior Kim Jacob scored a 9.9 on the balance beam to post the Tide to a 49.150 team score.
The Tide closed out the night on the floor exercise with another strong performance posting a 49.425, led by a 9.9 from Beers and Jacob. Jacob has been phenomenal on the floor exercise this season scoring a 9.9 or better in her ninth consecutive meet.
Alabama honored seniors Becca Alexin, Marissa Gutierrez, Ashley Priess and Sledge in their last regular-season home meet. The seniors were recognized before and after the meet and thanked for their contributions to the Crimson Tide. Alexin, Gutierrez and Sledge have never lost a home meet during their four years, while Priess, a fifth-year senior, has lost just once at Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama has now posted 34 consecutive home wins, a streak that includes a 24-0-0 regular season mark and a 10-0-0 record as host of the 2009 and 2011 NCAA regional championships.
“Tonight was huge for us, especially going into the SECs,” Sledge said. Alabama heads into the postseason next week when the Tide travels to Little Rock, Arkansas for the SEC Championships. “I wouldn’t say we were at our best on every single event, but I think there are really easy areas we can improve this week in practice,” senior Ashley Priess said. “I don’t think this team could be more confident going into postseason.” Although Alabama (7-2-1) won its sixth National Championship and second consecutive last year, the Crimson Tide still has a chip on their shoulder after coming up short in the 2012 SECs.
“We’ve come a long way,” Patterson said. “I still think that we’re not exactly where we’re going to be at the end but I like the steps forward we’ve made.
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