Friday Matches Top Women Of SEC
"This meet comes at the perfect time," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "We're through the first month of the season and now we have the opportunity to take on the No. 1 team in the country. It's going to be a great measuring stick for us."
Both teams are undefeated and coming off their highest scores of the season. Alabama's 196.825 to win the Metroplex Challenge is the third highest mark in the nation this season while the Gators' 197.5 from last week's tri-meet with Penn State and NC State ranks as the nation's top score.
The two teams have continuously battled for supremacy over the last several years. Alabama won the 2009 Southeastern Conference championship while the Gators came away with the title last season followed by the Tide in second. In 2008, the two teams tied for second at the league championship just .025 behind Georgia.
At the national level, Alabama finished third at last season's NCAA Championships while the homestanding Gators were fifth. The year before that, Alabama was second with the Gators in fourth. During the regular season, the two teams have traded dual meet wins since 2003, with the home team winning each time.
"We know that the road to an SEC or NCAA Championship goes through Gainesville, and they know if they want to win those titles, they have to go through us," Patterson said. "I think they're the most talented team in the nation, and we're looking forward to the challenge."
Senior All-American Kayla Hoffman, who has twice been named SEC Gymnast of the Week, and junior All-American Geralen Stack-Eaton lead the Tide into Friday's contest. Hoffman, ranked eighth in the all-around this week, posted a career-best 39.525 last weekend. Stack-Eaton made her debut in the all-around last weekend and is currently ranked second nationally. The Horsham, Pa., native was limited through the first three meets of the season after tweaking her knee just after the Christmas break.
The Gators are led by three-time SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week Alaina Johnson, who posted a career-best 39.6 in the all-around last weekend, and sophomore All-American Ashanée Dickerson, who has also earned SEC Gymnast of the Week honors this season. Johnson and Dickerson are ranked fourth and fifth nationally in the all-around respectively.
Fans will be able to follow all the action online at RollTide.com and GymTide.com. After facing the Gators, Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum for a two-meet homestand, taking on Auburn on Friday, Feb. 11 and Kentucky, on Friday, Feb. 18 in the Tide's annual Power of Pink meet. Tickets are available at the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or online at RollTide.com
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