Alabama gymnasts topple No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners

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Caroline Gazzara

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 4.57.22 PMThe No. 4 ranked Alabama gymnastics team closed out its regular season with a 197.525-196.900 win over No. 1 ranked Oklahoma in front of 11,776 fans in Coleman Coliseum on Senior Night. It was the Crimson Tide’s fifth consecutive 197-plus score.

“I thought that we did a great job in a lot of different areas, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “Our fans were incredible again tonight, and I think our ladies rose to the occasion.”

Alabama started strong, tying its season-best score on the vault, going 49.525 behind 9.95s from sophomore Kayla Williams and freshman Lauren Beers. It was a career-best score for Beers.

Senior Ashley Sledge paced Alabama with a career-best 9.95 en route 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 Kim Jacob scored a 9.9 on the balance beam to lead the Tide to a 49.150 team score. Alabama closed out the night on the floor exercise with a 49.425, led by 9.9s from Beers and Jacob. It was Jacob’s ninth consecutive 9.9 or better floor exercise score of the season.

Both before and after the meet Alabama honored seniors Becca Alexin, Marissa Gutierrez, Ashley Priess and Sledge in their last

regular-season home meet. Alexin, Gutierrez and Sledge have never lost a home meet during their four years, while Priess, a fifth-year senior, has lost just once in the Coliseum.

“Tonight was huge for us, especially going into the SECs,” Sledge said. “Oklahoma came in undefeated. Every team that they have competed against has lost. For us to beat this No. 1 team – we are over the moon right now.”

For the season, Alabama drew 13,422 fans per meet, the second highest average in school history and the second highest average among collegiate women’s programs in the nation this season.

Alabama posted its 34th consecutive home win on Friday, 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. The Tide’s last home loss came midway through the 2009 season.

Alabama returns to action for the SEC Championships in Little Rock, Ark., on March 23.

Leading  in today’s Crimson White:

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