Many Opportunities For Tide Gymnasts

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – For the No. 5 ranked Alabama gymnastics team, their last regular-season road meet of 2014 this Friday at the Perfect 10 Challenge in Oklahoma City will be a little different.

For one thing, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face off against three other teams – Oklahoma, Michigan and West Virginia - marking its first quad meet of the season. It will also mark the first time Alabama has competed in Oklahoma City, though nearby Norman, home of the Sooners, is familiar territory.

It will also be the first time since 2011 that the Tide has competed on a podium, where all four apparatus are raised above the arena floor, during the regular season, and it marks Alabama's first meet without a Southeastern Conference opponent this season.

"This meet is great for so many reasons," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "We get to compete in a new environment, and for our freshmen, they'll get to see what it's going to be like during the championship portion of our season."

The SEC and NCAA Championships, which will both be held in Birmingham, Ala., this year, will also be held on a podium, and just like Friday's meet, all four apparatus will be going at once, so this weekend gives Alabama's six freshmen a sneak peek at the postseason.

"The best part of the meet is that we get to compete against the No. 1 team and the No. 7 team in the national and we are in the environment where it's just like a championship meet," Patterson said.

As many differences as are apparent, this meet also feels somewhat familiar, especially when it comes to the level of competition. The Sooners are ranked No. 1 in the nation while the Wolverines check in at No. 7. Alabama has competed against a slew of top-10 opponents this season and all but one Alabama foe has been ranked in the top-20 when the Tide faced them.

As an added bonus, Alabama will have the opportunity to train on the podium during a practice day Thursday, much like it will once the championship season rolls around.

Alabama is coming off back-to-back season-high scores of 197.5, first against Georgia in Coleman Coliseum and then against last weekend at Auburn. Overall, the Tide has posted four scores of 197-plus coming into the stretch run of the season.

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