Tide Gymnasts Top Seed In Region At Oklahoma

The Alabama Gymnastics team learned today it will travel to Norman, Okla. to compete in the NCAA South Central Regional Championships Saturday, April 12 for a chance to advance to its 26th consecutive NCAA Championship final site.

The No. 4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide is the region's top seed, followed by host school and No. 9 ranked Oklahoma, No. 16 Boise State, No. 19 Arizona State, No. 24 Illinois and No. 36 Southeast Missouri State.

"We're ready to do our job, to go to Oklahoma and advance to the NCAA Championships," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "Oklahoma is a very good team with one of the nation's top young coaches. We've already met Illinois this season and Arizona State has historically been one of the nation's best. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to us giving our best effort and getting to Athens (Ga.) to contend for a national championship."

Alabama's season-best 197.325 at Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championships helped the Crimson Tide jump LSU and Michigan in the rankings to move up to No. 4 nationally, which moved them out of contention for a likely cross-country trip to Corvallis, Ore. and into Norman.

"Before SECs I thought we were headed to Oregon State for sure," Patterson said. "Moving up in the rankings made sure we stayed closer to home. It also made our ladies from Texas happy since their families won't have to travel quite so far to see us compete."

Alabama will start the meet on a bye before moving to the uneven bars for its first event, the same rotation the Tide had at the SEC Championships. The Tide will then move to the balance beam, then a bye followed by the floor exercise before finishing off the meet on the vault.

Alabama hasn't been to Oklahoma since 1991 when it faced the Sooners and Missouri in a tri-meet. The Tide last saw the Sooners in the preliminaries of the 2007 NCAA Championships, Boise State at the NCAA West Regional in 2006 and Arizona State at the 2001 Central Regional. The Tide faced Illinois in its first meet of this season and SE Missouri State during the 1997 regular season.

Six teams, five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event were named to each of the six regions. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Athens, Ga., April 24-26, hosted by the University of Georgia.

In addition, the event winners at the regional championships will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or the all-around qualifiers.

Alabama is vying for its 26th consecutive NCAA Championship bid. Only Utah, which is going for 27 straight final site trips, has as many consecutive appearances.

Tickets for the 2008 NCAA Women's Gymnastics South Central Regional are available through the OU Athletics Ticket Office (405.325.2424 or 800.456-4668).

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