Bama Gymnasts Repeat As SEC Champs

DULUTH, Ga. – For the first time in its storied history, Alabama gymnastics won back-to-back Southeastern Conference Championships after Alabama posted a 197.525 to edge LSU by less than a tenth of a point Saturday night at The Arena.

Using the same rotation they did a year ago, Alabama finished on uneven bars, posting a 49.275 to earn the win, though both LSU and Florida kept things tight throughout the last rotation.

A year ago, it came down to Alabama’s last competitor on the uneven bars and Florida’s final floor exercise routine. Saturday was a little different as Alabama’s fifth competitor on the uneven bars, junior Lauren Beers, closed out the Tigers and Gators and clinched an Alabama win with a 9.9.

There were other differences between the two championships runs of course, the biggest being that this was the first Alabama postseason title without legendary coaches Sarah and David Patterson, who retired last summer, at the helm and the first under head coach Dana Duckworth.

“We have talked all season about protecting the legacy and we did that tonight,” Duckworth, who is in her 20th season with the Tide program, said. “Sarah and David paved the way for our success tonight. This was classic Alabama, a total team performance with everyone lifting each other up to reach a common goal.”

It was Alabama’s ninth SEC title, the others coming in 1988, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2011, and, of course, 2014.

Beers led the way for Tide, posting a 39.500 to take third in the all-around. Senior Kaitlyn Clark shared top honors on the vault, posting a 9.95. Clark and Keely McNeer took second on the balance beam with matching scores of 9.9.

Alabama opened with a 49.275 on the balance beam led by McNeer’s 9.9 in the leadoff spot and Clark’s matching score to finish the rotation. Alabama scored a 49.475 on the floor exercise behind Carley Sims’ career-best 9.95. On the vault, Clark’s 9.95 paced Alabama to a 49.500.

Alabama now awaits the NCAA regional championships announcement, which comes Monday.

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