Alabama Gymnastics defeats Missouri in season-opener
The No. 2 Alabama gymnastics team opened its 2014 season this Friday against Southeastern Conference foe Missouri in Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide could not have had a better start to the season, defeating the Tigers 197.150 – 193.425 in front of 12,971 fans. It was the highest opening score in Crimson Tide history.
The night started out in question as junior and Tide leader Kayla Williams fell during warm-ups and was unable to compete. Coach Sarah Patterson had to make a change to the line-up with only 30 minutes before the meet was set to start. With the late change Patterson and the team were not really sure how that would impact the focus of the team.
“Every year, we start with a new team,” Patterson said. “It doesn’t matter if we have two freshmen, like we did last year, or six like we do right now, every team has its own personality, its own chemistry and its own story to tell.” And tell a story on the night, they did.
Alabama got out to a fast start on the vault with a 49.300 total score. Senior Diandra Milliner’s held the top spot on the event with DeMeo’s 9.875 following behind her.
The Tide set the bar high on the season scoring their highest total on the uneven bars with a 49.475. Alabama didn’t have a total that high for the uneven bars in any of the meets during the 2013 season. Senior Kim Jacob and freshman Amanda Jetter led the way with their career-best, each with a 9.925, while junior Kaitilyn Clark closed out the Tide’s set with the next highest score on the event with a 9.9.
Although the balance beam is where the Crimson Tide had their lowest point total on the night the talented group of gymnasts still maintained a strong showing. Senior Kim Jacob took the top spot in the event with a 9.875 with junior Kaitlyn Clark right behind her with a 9.825. Freshman, and early enrollee, Aja Sims proved why she got the go ahead from Coach Patterson tying for the second highest point total on the set with 9.825.
The Crimson Tide returned 11 from last year, including a trio of All-American seniors, Kim Jacob, Diandra Milliner and Sarah DeMeo and six All-Americans overall. There are six freshmen on this year’s team, including two, Aja Sims and Keely McNeer, who graduated early from high school and have joined the Tide for the spring semester. Sims performed well on the night
The Tide closed out the evening with the floor exercise where Milliner posted a nearly perfect combined score of 9.95. The first set of judges actually gave her a perfect 10.00 while she received a 9.90 from the other set of judges. With the seniors Milliner and Jacob (9.925) leading the way the Tide scored a 49.300 team score on the event.
“I’m very proud of the team,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I think we’ve been to the point where we needed to compete for a while. We really weren’t going to get any better in practice, we just needed to get out there in front of the crowd and in front of some judges and under some pressure. I think they really did a great job tonight.”
Alabama travels to Knoxville, TN for their first road trip of the season where they will take on Kentucky and Nebraska on Saturday Jan. 17 in a tri-meet.
Alabama’s Top Individual Finishers on the night:
Vault Diandra Milliner 1st 9.925
Uneven Bars Kim Jacob
Balance Beam Kim Jacob
Floor Exercise Diandra Milliner 1st 9.950
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