Alabama Gymnasts Judged To Be Fifth

There is nothing that can be done about the inherit weakness in the college sport of gymnastics. There is no doubt that gymnasts are outstanding athletes and their performances justifiably please a large fan base.

That is particularly true at Alabama, where Sarah Patterson has built a dynasty. Indeed, it is likely true that the Crimson Tide benefits to some extent from the one thing that frustrates coaches, athletes, and fans.

Gymnastics is a judged sport. And in the early part of the season, rankings are based on judgment. One can say it doesn't matter, that the top teams will all be on the same gym floor at the end of the season, but a case can be made that it matters a great deal.

The theory known as Occam's razor say that "when there are two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is better." Alabama gymnast vs. College of Fat Ugly Girls gymnast, both look the same, Bama girl wins.

At the end of the season, at tournament time, all the judges are going to know that Alabama is very, very good and the Crimson Tide should benefit from the judges having that knowledge. It's that simple.

So now Alabama is one meet into the season, a victory over 10-time NCAA Champion Georgia The Crimson Tide is defending national champion with most of the same women who won that title a year ago.

After comparing the scores of judges from all across the nation, judging meets in all manner of circumstances, Alabama is ranked fifth. Bama scored 196.475 to beat Georgia's 196.325.

On the other hand, Crimson Tide senior Geralen Stack-Eaton was judged to have scored a perfect 10 on the vault in the meet. Therefore, Stack-Eaton is ranked first in the nation in vault.

Nebraska is number one in the national rankings, which are detrmine by season average, followed by number two Utah, number three Arkansas, and number four Oregon State.

After Alabama is Georgia sixth, UCLA seventh, and Florida eighth. Penn State, the host of Alabama's first road meet this Saturday, is number nine, and Oklahoma rounds out the top ten.

Alabama is ranked second on vault, fifth on balance beam and floor exercise, and 21st on uneven bars.

In addition to being number one on the vault, Stack-Eaton is 10th on the uneven bars and 14th on the balance beam. Junior Ashley Sledge, who made her collegiate debut in the all-around against Georgia, is ranked sixth all-around, second on vault, and 13th in floor exercise.

Senior Ashley Priess, who made her return to the Tide's lineup after sitting out last season following surgery on both ankles, is ranked seventh on floor, 10th on bars, and 14th on beam. Junior Marissa Gutierrez is also ranked seventh on floor and 21st on vault. Sophomore Deanda Milliner is 21st on vault.

At State College, Alabama will take on Michigan State and Cornell in addition to host Penn State at 7 p.m. EST (6 p.m. central) Saturday. Bama will be at Auburn Jan. 27. The Tide returns home Friday, February 3, against Florida. Tickets are available through the Alabama ticket office (205 348-2262) or at

Tony Mitchell makes spectacular slam dunks for the Alabama basketball team. You know how much those count? Two. Just the same as a layup. And in football, a stylish touchdown? Say a flip into the end zone? That gets you a penalty.

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