The final score showed Alabama take the win, 195.675 to 195.025, a startling margin of victory over Bama's archrivals. "I'm very proud of this team," Patterson said. "I said all along that this team would be better in March and April. We've made big steps forward. Now, if we can clean up our errors. We're building depth. We've got several people on the edge of being very good."
The dual meet was yet another episode in what has become one of the SEC's most heated rivalries. In the past Georgia Head Coach Suzanne Yoculan has not always been noted for her graciousness in defeat, but tonight she did acknowledge the obvious.
"We weren't very good tonight, and I don't think Alabama was that good either," Yoculan said afterwards. "But they were the best team. It was exactly the kind of competition you don't want to have. Neither team's score was good enough for them to win anything. Not a national title and not an SEC title."
Raegan Tomasek's 39.200 total was good enough to take home first place in the All-Around, and the senior tied for first place on the floor with a 9.900. A last minute lineup change placed Tomasek in the vault, otherwise the veteran gymnast would only have competed in three events.
"I'm very proud of Raegan," Patterson said. "Raegan's come a long way for us over the last four years. I put her in the All-Around just before the meet, but that's the kind of teamwork we have from this squad."
"It's only one vault," Tomasek said. "And it was a vault that I can do in my sleep, so it wasn't a big deal. I wasn't even thinking about the All-Around. That thought never crossed my mind. I just knew we were up against Georgia.
"For me gymnastics is a team event. I was just excited to do my routines for my team."
Still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury suffered before Nationals last year, Andree' Pickens did not perform on floor, keeping the nine-time All-American from competing for the All-Around. But Pickens placed first on both vault and the uneven bars. "She wouldn't be competing in vault if her leg wasn't 100 percent," Patterson said. "But we're going to bring her along slowly. It's in our best interest to develop depth."
Eleven different gymnasts competed for the Tide, including true freshman Alexis Brion, who tied with Tomasek for first place on the floor exercise with a score of 9.90. "It's going to be important for us to bring our depth along," Patterson explained. "That's one of the things we have to do to be better in April."
Pickens placed first on the vault with a score of 9.950. Bama's Jeana Rice tied with Georgia's Marline Stephens for second with a 9.875. Pickens tied with Georgia's Cory Fritzinger for first on the uneven bars, scoring 9.900. Tomasek and Georgia's Eileen Diaz were second with a 9.875. The GymDawgs swept the balance beam. Fritzinger was first (9.875), Talya Vexlar second (9.825) and Stephens third (9.775). Brion's and Tomasek's 9.900s took first on the floor exercise. Georgia's Sierra Sapunar earned third with a 9.875.
Stephens and Fritzinger took second and third respectively behind Tomasek in the All-Around. Rice and Kristin Sterner also competed in the All-Around for Alabama.
The meet turned on the second rotation. Alabama was posting a 49.275 uneven bars score, paced by a 9.9 from Pickens, a 9.875 from Tomasek and a pair of 9.85s from Rice and Natalie Barrington. Meanwhile on the vault, Georgia was digging themselves into a hole, scoring only a 48.300.
Alabama had trailed by two tenths of a point heading into that rotation, but by the time the GymTiders were done on the uneven bars they held a .725 lead.
"We knew we were going to the bars, which is our strong event," Pickens explained. "I just told the girls to get after it. This is our house! Take care of business!"
Alabama returns to action in Coleman Coliseum next Saturday (Jan. 26) at 7 p.m. against Denver. Tickets are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.BAMA), SouthTix (800.240.2300) or online at www.rolltide.com.