Tide Gymnasts Take Top SEC Honors

From time to time youth results in a dilemma. Each week the Southeastern Conference selects a number of "Player of the Week" honorees, including various categories for freshmen. But what if the outstanding performance is by a freshman? It happens.

This week when the SEC looked at the performances of gymnasts from the previous week, a pair of Crimson Tide freshmen were the standouts. And so, Alabama freshman Sarah DeMeo was named the SEC Gymnast of the Week and Diandra Milliner was named SEC Freshman of the Week. It was the second time this year Milliner has been selected for the freshman honor.

Alabama is the first team this season to have gymnasts earn both honors in the same week.

"Both Sarah and Diandra had an outstanding night against LSU," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "They have both have been extremely receptive to making adjustments throughout the season to help their team be successful and on Friday their spark helped carry us through to a great team performance, one that sets us up well for the upcoming SEC Championships."

DeMeo posted career-best scores in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise against LSU, winning the first all-around of her collegiate career with a 39.450 and her fourth balance beam title with a 9.950. Both scores were the best in the conference last week. The Overland, Kan., native led the Tide to a 196.950 in its win over the Tigers, the highest team total of the week in the league.

"That was the best meet Sarah has had all season," Patterson said. "Her balance beam routine was near perfect and when she had a chance to step in on the floor exercise, she made the most of it. I'm so proud of her and the way she has embraced our team's goals and focus as her own."

Milliner won the vault and floor exercise against LSU, posting a career-high 9.975 on the vault and 9.925 on the floor exercise. Both scores were the highest in the conference last week for those events. She is currently ranked second in the nation on the vault and is eighth on the floor exercise and anchors a vault lineup that is ranked No. 1 nationally. The Wichita, Kan., native in the league's top ranked freshman on both the vault and floor.

"Diandra continues to use that huge vault to add an exclamation mark to our lineup," Patterson said. "She is a true competitor in every sense of the word and it showed against LSU. She has done everything we've asked of her and has added a great spark to our lineup since joining us in January."

The Tide duo earned Alabama's sixth and seventh conference honors this season. DeMeo and Milliner both earned freshman gymnast of the week honors earlier in the year while senior Kayla Hoffman and junior Geralen Stack-Eaton both earned SEC Gymnast of the Week recognition, with Hoffman earning the accolade twice.

Alabama opens the postseason Saturday at 4 p.m. with the SEC Championships at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center. Tickets are available through SECSports.com. The Tide then returns to Coleman Coliseum Saturday, April 2nd at 6:00 p.m. for the NCAA Regional Championships where Alabama will be vying for its 26th regional title and 29th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. Regional tickets are available on RollTide.com as well as the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum.

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