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Alabama Gymnastics defeats Florida in final rotation

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Photo by Jason Clark

Photo by Jason Clark

The No. 4 Alabama Gymnastics team and No. 3 Florida Gators matched score for score through their first three rotations tonight in front of 12,300 fans in Coleman Coliseum. It’s what one would expect between two teams that are so closely matched and separated by .460 points in the overall rankings.  With the score tied 148.50-148.50 going into the final rotation the Crimson Tide had back-to-back scores of 9.950 on the floor exercise to secure the win 197.675-197.400.

“That’s what I wanted,” Patterson said. “I wanted our team to see that we’re as good as everyone else. We just continued down that path. I believed it but I wanted them to see it for themselves.”

The Tide was without senior All-American and leader Sarah DeMeo due to a concussion which put the added pressure on the other senior leaders Kim Jacobs and Diandra Milliner. Not only did the seniors step up when called upon but so did the rest of the team.   ”I feel like our ladies learned that even through adversity and challenges and shifting our lineup around that they can compete with anyone in the country.” Patterson said.

Photo by Jason Clark

Photo by Jason Clark

Sophomore Lauren Beers’ led the way for Alabama on vault with a 9.925 giving the Tide an overall 49.425. That score was matched on the uneven bars thanks to 9.925 scores from Kim Jacob and freshman Amanda Jetter. The overall (49.425) was the Tide’s second highest of the season for that exercise.

Both teams were knotted at 98.85 after the first two rotations with one of Florida’s best exercises coming up in the third.  Alabama matched Florida’s high scoring floor routine with a season best 49.400 on the balance beam.  Sophomore Kaitlyn Clark recorded her career-best with a 9.925, freshman Aja Sims added a 9.9 and Milliner added a 9.875. As Alabama matched the Gators with the score the Crimson Tide was set up perfectly going into the final rotation, “ I just felt like going head-to-head tonight in this great environment would show our ladies just how far we’ve come over the season.” Patterson said.

On the final event of the night Florida had three gymnasts to either fell or wobbled on the beam but had still managed to keep the meet nearly tied. Alabama’s freshman Aja Sims received 9.875 while Lauren Beers followed with a 9.850 and freshman Amanda Jetter posted a 9.800.  The scores were not enough to pull too far ahead of the Gators which put the pressure on the two seniors Jacob and Milliner.

Photo by Jason Clark

Photo by Jason Clark

“I practice every day,” Milliner said. “It would be kind of ridiculous to start worrying at that point because I know how to do it. If I start worrying, I probably would have gotten tighter and wouldn’t have been as good.”

As both seniors stepped onto the floor for their routines they performed with enthusiasm, accuracy, and confidence. After each performance the Alabama fans rose from their seats with rousing cheers and chants of “Roll Tide”.  Each senior leader finished with a 9.950 giving the Crimson Tide the edge it needed for a total of 49.425 and giving the Gators their first loss on the season.

“I just love hearing the crowd cheer that loud. There’s no other place like Coleman Coliseum.” Milliner said.

Alabama scored a season best on the night and goes to 8-3-0 on the year (6-1-0 SEC) while extending its home winning streak to 43-0-0.

Alabama will be back in Coleman Coliseum for their final two regular season meets of the year against Stanford and rival Auburn.

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