GymTiders dominate at Michigan

ANN ARBOR, MI -- In the last regular season meet of her career, Alabama gymnastics senior Jeana Rice was at her best, scoring a 39.750 in the all-around and leading the No. 5 ranked Crimson Tide to its second highest score of the season and a 197.725-197.025 win over No. 19 Michigan.

Rice's mark tied her career best while the Tide's total was its highest road score of the season and best since its 197.925 against Florida on Jan. 30. Junior Shannon Hrozek also tied her career best in the all-around, scoring 39.500 to take third behind a 39.575 from Michigan's Elise Ray. Rice won the uneven bars and balance beam while junior Alexis Brion won the vault and floor exercise

Alabama finished the regular season at 12-1-0 while Michigan fell to 8-6 on the Wolverine's senior night.

"The coaching staff is extremely pleased with the strides we made forward tonight," head coach Sarah Patterson said. "From our competitive enthusiasm to our team spirit, this was the Alabama team we've been looking for. In particular, we grew up a tremendous amount tonight after Alexis fell off the balance beam. Shannon came up next and had her best routine of the season when we needed it most. The fall put the pressure on us and I thought we handled it well."

Alabama closed out the meet with a 49.250 on the balance beam led by a 9.95 from Rice, a mark that ties her season best. The Tide's mark tied for its second highest of the season and was a marked improvement on an event the Tide has struggled on over the last few meets. Hrozek and sophomore Mari Bayer both scored 9.85. Michigan posted a 49.225 on the beam.

The Crimson Tide opened up with a 49.400 on the uneven bars led by Rice's 9.95 in the anchor slot. It was Rice's best score since going 9.95 against Florida on Jan. 30. Sophomore Ashley Miles, Hrozek and Bayer all scored 9.875. Alabama's total ties its second highest of the season. For Miles it was her first routine back in the lineup since tweaking her ankle against Georgia three weeks ago. Michigan scored a 49.350 on the uneven bars.

"It was great to get Ashley back out there tonight," Patterson said. "She will be ready for floor exercise at SECs. There were a lot of contributions made by different people tonight and I think this team now believes that we are back on track. That gives us great confidence going into the SEC Championships."

Alabama posted its second highest vault total of the year, going 49.600. The Tide was led by Brion, who tied her career best with a 9.975. Hrozek also tied her career best on the vault, posting a 9.925 to lead off. Rice also posted a 9.925 while freshman Brittany Comeaux scored a career best 9.900. Michigan scored a 49.100 on the vault.

Brion led the Tide to a 49.475 on the floor exercise, scoring a season best 9.95 on the floor exercise. Before tonight, Brion had scored 9.925 in five of her seven routines this season. Rice posted a 9.925 while sophomore Dana Pierce and senior Stephanie Kite both scored 9.875 and Hrozek and senior Lauren Holdefer scored 9.85s. Michigan posted a 49.350 on the floor exercise.

With the regular season over, Alabama heads to the Southeastern Conference Championships. The 2004 championships will be held Saturday, March 20 in the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. The Crimson Tide is the defending Southeastern Conference Champion and has won two of the four league championships contested in the decade of 2000.

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