Alabama Gymnastics Pre-Season No. 2
"I think it just goes to show the respect that coaches around the country have for our program," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "It doesn't matter what kind of team we have - whether we have two freshmen like we did last year or six like we have this season - or where we finished the year before, they know that we will find a way to be successful."
The Florida Gators, first-time NCAA Champions last season, are ranked No. 1 by the coaches, while Oklahoma, UCLA and LSU join the Crimson Tide in rounding out the top five.
The Tide faces a challenging schedule in 2014, one that includes three members of the top five and seven members of the top 10.
"This is further proof that we have a schedule that our fans will love," Patterson said. "A total of 10 of our opponents are ranked in the top 21 nationally."
Alabama will host No. 1 Florida, No. 5 LSU, No. 8 Georgia, No. 9 Stanford, No. 11 Arkansas and No. 13 Auburn in Coleman Coliseum this season. The Tide will also see No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 7 Michigan, No. 10 Nebraska, No. 13 Auburn (in the first of two regular-season meetings) and No. 21 Kentucky on the road.
"We will have seen the best teams in the country by the time we travel up the road to Birmingham for the SEC and NCAA Championships," Patterson said. "So our ladies will not be looking over their shoulders when we get to that point."
This year's team features a balanced mix of experienced veterans and talented rookies. There are six All-Americans returning to this year's roster, including seniors Sarah DeMeo, Kim Jacob and Diandra Milliner, juniors Kayla Williams and Kaitlyn Clark and sophomore Lauren Beers.
"Kim, Diandra and Sarah have been a big part of our success over the past three years and I look for them to lead the way," Patterson said. "The emergence of Kayla Williams and Kaitlyn Clark will be another factor in our success this season."
Alabama also added six freshmen to this year's roster, including two that are joining the team for the second semester.
"With six freshmen, including two that will join us in late December, this will be a team that builds over the season," Patterson said. "Our goal is to end our journey with a peak performance in Birmingham."
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