GymTiders open season Friday

The Alabama gymnastics team gets the 2004 season underway with the SUPER SIX CHALLENGE Friday, January 9 at 7 p.m.

The Crimson Tide, which finished second at last year's NCAA Championships, welcomes Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Denver and Oregon State to Coleman Coliseum for the nation's premiere "kick-off" event.

"The Super Six Challenge is set up just like the last night of the NCAA Championships, from the number of teams to the way we warm up," Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. "I think it's good for us to start our season the way we want to finish it. We have a strong field coming in and we are excited to get going."

Jeana Rice

While Alabama finished fourth at the 2003 Super Six Challenge, Patterson expects a better showing this season.

"We are much farther along than we were at the same time last season," Patterson said. "Part of that comes from the fact that we have 12 athletes returning from last season, instead of having half the team made up of freshmen as we did last year. We will start from a much better place than we did last season."

And while Alabama may have gotten off to a slow start last season, their finish was fast and furious. Patterson and company won their fifth Southeastern Conference Championship, its 19th NCAA Regional title and finished NCAA Runnerup. It marked the 14th time in 21 consecutive NCAA appearances that Alabama has finished in the top-3 at the national championships.

The 2004 Tide is led by six returning All-Americans, including Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Year Jeana Rice, a senior, and NCAA Vault Champion Ashley Miles, a freshman.

In addition to the "Super Six", Coleman Coliseum will also play host to a special trio of young ladies on Jan. 9. The Powerpuff Girls, Bubble, Blossom and Buttercup, will be at Coleman Coliseum starting at 5 p.m. The stars of Cartoon Network's "Powerpuff Girls" show will be available for pictures with fans before the meet starts.

The meet will be broadcasted by espn2 on Sunday, January 11 at 5 p.m. CT.

Tickets for the Super Six Challenge and the Crimson Tide's season are available at the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262), located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum or online at

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