Gymnasts Continue Great Performances

Even as the new academic year gets underway, the back-to-back NCAA Champion Alabama gymnastics team continues to reap the rewards for last season's outstanding performance in the classroom.

Alabama produced the highest team grade point average among the Southeastern Conference gymnastics teams last season and was eighth among all gymnastics programs, the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches announced recently.

The Crimson Tide was also one of just three teams to advance to last April's NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga., and rank among the top-10 academically after posting a 3.55 team grade point average on the way to winning its sixth national title. It marked the seventh year in a row UA gymnasts have posted a team GPA of 3.4 or better.

"I am thrilled that over the last two years, not only have we won back-to-back NCAA titles, but we have also been champions in the classroom, with team grade point averages of 3.71 and 3.55," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "Performances like that, in both the arena and the classroom, prove once again that at Alabama, you can truly have it all."

The Tide was also one of just three schools that were at the national championships and had 10 or more gymnasts earn Scholastic All-American recognition, with 13 UA gymnasts collecting the accolade, one shy of the school record set in 2011.

To be a Scholastic All-American, a gymnast must have a 3.5 or better GPA either for the previous academic year, or for their career. Among UA's 2012 honorees, five, Rachel Terry, Ashley Priess, Kim Jacob, Lindsey Fowler and Ria Domier, hold a career GPA of 4.0, while all 18 members of the last year's squad carry a cumulative GPA of a 3.1 or better.

"The success Alabama gymnasts have earned year-in and year-out is phenomenal," Patterson said. "And such a large part of our success in the classroom can be attributed to the support system we have at Alabama. The job that Jon Dever, Fern Hampton and the entire staff of our state-of-the-art academic center do is truly amazing. They make sure our student-athletes have everything they need to be successful."

All-American Rachel Terry, a two-time NCAA Elite 89 Award winner, earned Scholastic All-American recognition for the fourth year in a row, while eight-time All-American Ashley Priess, who has earned her undergraduate degree and is currently working on her master's degree, earned the honor for the third time.

Last December, Priess became the first Patterson-coached student-athlete to earn an undergraduate degree and start a master's degree while still competing. This fall she becomes just the second fifth-year senior in UA gymnastics history.

Becca Alexin earned Scholastic All-American honors for the third time while All-Americans Ashley Sledge, Sarah DeMeo, Kim Jacob and Diandra Milliner along with Ria Domier and Lindsey Fowler all earned the accolade for the second time. 2012 freshmen Kaitlyn Clark, Lora Leigh Frost, Brooke Parker and All-American Kayla Williams are all Scholastic All-Americans for the first time.

"Our ladies continue to strive for excellence in all areas of the collegiate experience and I look forward to seeing what this year's team can accomplish with the wonderful foundation that has already been established," Patterson said.

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