Tide Gymnasts Soar Past No. 3 Florida

The No. 6 ranked Alabama gymnastics team beat No. 3 Florida by a score of 197.725-196.900 in front of 12,457 fans who braved the rain Friday night to be at Coleman Coliseum. It was the second highest score in the nation this year and the highest score for the Crimson Tide since the 2004 season.

Alabama, avenging its lone loss from a year ago, goes to 6-0-0 overall and 3-0-0 in SEC competition while the Gators fall to 6-1-0 overall, 2-1-0 in the SEC.

"I think really the key to our success tonight, was something our ladies learned from last year," Crimson Tide Coach Sarah Patterson said. "When we got down to Gainesville last year, everybody was watching this great Florida team and we didn't focus on what we had to do. So tonight the coaches challenged the athletes to not even watch the Gators."

Alabama got things going with a 49.600 on the vault, led by sophomore Diandra Milliner's perfect 10.0. It was Alabama's highest vault team score since posting a 49.625 at the 2005 NCAA Championships Super Six Team Finals. It was also the Tide's second 10.0 of the season, following senior Geralen Stack-Eaton's perfect mark on the vault against Georgia to start the season.

"I thought it was great," Stack-Eaton said of Milliner's perfect score. "I just think it shows how much potential we have. Marissa (Gutierrez) got a 9.95 tonight (on vault) and she has the potential to get a 10 as well. We just have a great vaulting team."

Stack-Eaton, who was held out from competition last Friday at Auburn after an awkward landing during warm ups, returned to the vault and uneven bars lineup against the Gators, scoring a 9.925 and a 9.825 respectively.

The Tide also posted season-high scores on the uneven bars (49.250), balance beam (49.425) and floor exercise (49.450). Friday's performance came a week later than Patterson thought it would.

"I think that we were prepared for this performance last week," Patterson said. "I think losing Geralen after warm ups last week kind of shook our ladies just a little bit."

Senior Ashley Priess won the all-around, her first of the season, with a 39.550, followed by junior Ashley Sledge, who tied her career-best to take second, with a 39.450.

Milliner won the vault with a perfect 10 while junior Marissa Gutierrez won the floor exercise with a 9.925. Milliner, Priess and sophomore Sarah DeMeo tied for top honors on the balance beam, all scoring 9.9.

Alabama returns to the road next weekend, traveling to Lexington to take on Kentucky on Friday at 7 p.m. EST. The Tide returns home Friday, Feb. 17 against Arkansas for the eighth annual Power of Pink meet.

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