Tide Begins SEC Gymnastics On Bars

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The No. 2 ranked Alabama gymnastics team will begin the Southeastern Conference Championships on the uneven bars and will finish competition on the vault here at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center Saturday starting at 4 p.m. CT.

Alabama discovered its competition order during the championship draw held between Friday's two practice sessions. After starting on the uneven bars, Alabama will move to the balance beam in the second rotation, followed by a bye and then the floor exercise. After the floor, Alabama will go to its second bye before finishing the competition on the vault. The Tide will sit out the seventh and final rotation on a bye.

"There is no better place to be than the Southeastern Conference," Crimson Tide Coach Sarah Patterson said after the draw. "This meet will prepare all these gymnasts and all these coaches for the NCAA Championships and I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be."

Competition at the SEC Championships is once against stacked with four teams ranked in the top-12 nationally - No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Alabama, No. 8 Georgia and No. 12 Arkansas. All seven SEC teams that sponsor gymnastics are ranked in the top 30 with LSU at No. 19, Auburn at No. 22 and Kentucky at No. 29.

Alabama comes into this year's championship season led by seven gymnasts, including three freshmen, who are ranked in the top-25 nationally on at least one event. Senior Kayla Hoffman is ranked fourth in the all-around while she and freshman Diandra Milliner are tied for second on the vault and junior Geralen Stack-Eaton is ranked third on the balance beam.

"This is probably one of the most fun teams that we've been around," Patterson said after Friday's practice session. "Somewhere between 38 and 40-percent of our routines come from freshmen, so it's a young team, but I have to say that this year has been one of most rewarding and enjoyable coaching experiences of my career."

Before the draw, Alabama went through a nearly two-hour practice, adjusting to the equipment, the arena and the podium. The Tide's radio broadcast of the championships will be on WVUA 90.7-FM in Tuscaloosa and can also be heard online.

The link for the radio broadcast can be found on RollTide.com. A link to live scores can be found on www.secsports.com and the meet will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on ESPN2 Sunday, April 3 at 2 p.m. CT.

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