Miles ahead of the rest

LINCOLN, NE -- Saturday was Ashley Miles' night. <br><br>After shining all season for the Alabama Gymnastics squad in team competition, during individual event finals tonight, Miles capped her rookie season by winning the NCAA Vault title with a 9.9375.

"All season long Ashley has been the exclamation point on our floor and vault lineups," Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. "Tonight she put an awesome exclamation point on this championship and her rookie season."

In individual event finals, a gymnast must do two different vaults in front of a six-judge panel. The average of the two vault scores constitutes the final total. Miles scored a 10.0 on her first vault and a 9.875 on her second effort. She was able to fend off 2002 NCAA vault champion Jamie Dantzscher of UCLA for the win. Junior Jeana Rice finished eighth on the vault with a 9.8375

Miles' title is the first vault championship by a Crimson Tide athlete and the 14th individual crown. She is the first freshman to win an NCAA championship since Andreé Pickens won the balance beam in 1999.

The San Antonio, Texas native wasn't done after the vault. Miles came back and posted a 9.925 on the floor exercise, taking third place on that event behind champion Richelle Simpson of Nebraska (9.9625) and Dantzscher (9.9375).

With its NCAA Runner-up team finish already in the books, Alabama had five athletes qualify for individual honors. Sophomore Alexis Brion qualified on the vault, but tweaked her knee in warm-up and did not compete.

Rice finished third on the balance beam with a 9.925 while senior Kristin Sterner scored a 9.8, good for sixth place. Rice took fourth on the uneven bars with a 9.85 while freshman Mari Bayer took eighth with a 9.825.

Each of the gymnasts competing tonight, along with Brion, earned first team All-American honors on the event they finaled on. In addition, Rice earned All-American honors in the all-around based on her performance Thursday during team preliminaries, the same day the participants in individual finals are determined.

Second team All-American honors were also determined based on Thursday's competition. In addition to being first team on the balance beam, Sterner was second team All-American in the all-around, giving her 11 career honors. Bayer was second team on the balance beam.

Sophomore Shannon Hrozek, first team last season, earned second team on the balance beam this year. Junior Stephanie Kite joined Rice as second team All-American on the floor exercise.

Rice ended the season with four first team and one second team All-American honor, giving her 13 career honors through three seasons, the fourth most in Alabama history.

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