Alabama Gymnasts Host No. 1 Florida

As in so many sports, the Southeastern Conference has been the dominant force in women’s gymnastics. No better example is available than Friday night’s meet in Coleman Coliseum.

The Alabama gymnastics team is seventh in the latest rankings as they prepare to take on No. 1 Florida at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Coleman Coliseum.

One of the great rivalries in collegiate gymnastics, the Crimson Tide and the Gators have split the last four NCAA Championships, with Alabama winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 for a total of six, and Florida winning its first national championship in 2013 and then sharing the title with Oklahoma last season.

Alabama and Florida have also split the last six Southeastern Conference crowns, with The Tide winning in 2014, 2011 and 2009 and the Gators taking top honors in 2013, 2012 and 2010.

Oklahoma and Florida, the defending NCAA co-champions, are once again tied at No. 1, followed by No. 3 LSU. Michigan and Utah are tied for the No. 4 spot. Nebraska is ranked sixth while the Crimson Tide, UCLA, Oregon State and Georgia round out the top 10. The rankings are based on season average at this point in the competitive year.

“This will be an amazing meet,” Bama Coach Dana Duckworth said. “To have the defending NCAA Champions and the No. 1 team in the nation in our arena is an amazing opportunity for our ladies. It’s like the old saying, ‘iron sharpens iron.’”

The two perennial powers faced off against each other four times last season, with the Tide coming away with a 2-1-1 record against the Gators, winning the regular season meeting and the SEC Championships. The two teams tied in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships, while the Gators tied for first in the NCAA Super Six Team Finals and Alabama took fourth.

Alabama comes into Friday’s meet as the nation’s top ranked floor exercise squad and is ranked second on the vault while Florida is ranked No. 1 on the balance beam and No. 3 on the vault.

The top-10 showdown will be Military Appreciation Night in Coleman Coliseum. All current and former members of the military will receive free admission when using the promo code GYMMIL. They will also receive $3 admission for additional family members by presenting military identification. The Million Dollar Band will offer a salute of military music.

The Tide is No. 1 on the floor exercise, No. 2 on the vault, 19th on the uneven bars and 21st on the balance beam after week two of the season.

Individually, sophomore Aja Sims is ranked third on the balance beam, 15th on the floor exercise, and is tied for 13th on the uneven bars with junior Lauren Beers. Sophomore Katie Bailey is ranked sixth in the all-around and is tied for 25th on the vault with sophomore Keely McNeer.

Junior Kaitlyn Clark and senior Kayla Williams are ranked 4th and 10th respectively, on the vault. Senior Lora Leigh Frost and freshman Mackenzie Brannan are tied for ninth on the floor exercise while junior Carley Sims is ranked 13th.

Tickets are available to Friday’s top-10 showdown through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum and online at RollTide.com

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