Rice 'super' at Super Six

ATHENS, GA -- Alabama gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson said that Jeana Rice has been ready to compete before Thanksgiving and today at the Super Six Challenge, the junior All-American proved her right.

"It's no secret that Jeana struggled last year," Patterson said. "This year she came in, and she was in competitive shape by Thanksgiving and it really nice to see her rebound from last year's adversity and perform at this level."

Rice came out in her first meet of the season and not only won three events, including the all-around, but posted a career best mark in the all-around and uneven bars and tied her career best on the balance beam.

Rice wasn't the only Tide gymnast to bring home individual gold. Rookie Ashley Miles made a splash in her debut, winning the vault and floor exercise with a pair of 9.950s.

"Ashley has the potential to be a national champion during her career," Patterson said. "I was very pleased with how she performed tonight, but she has so much more in her arsenal. This is just a starting point for her, as it is for the rest of the team."

Coach Patterson talks with Jeana Rice.

As a team, Alabama finished fourth with a healthy 196.000. Georgia won the event with a 197.35, followed by Nebraska, 196.700, and Florida, 196.625. Penn State and Oklahoma rounded out the meet at 194.375 and 193.375 respectively.

"We went from being a veteran team last year to being a team with seven freshmen and three sophomores this season," Patterson said. "Over half of our routines came from the underclass tonight. Our freshmen have a great deal of talent, but it's going to take a while for every to find their way."

Sophomore Shannon Hrozek got the Tide's 2003 season off to a sterling start, posting a 9.875 in the leadoff spot on the uneven bars, the Tide's first event. Rice finished off the rotation with a team best 9.950, leading the Tide to a 49.100 team score.

Alabama struggled on the balance beam, coming up with a 48.200 team score after posting three sub-9.500 scores. Rice again led the Tide, earning a 9.925 while senior Kristin Sterner finished the event off with a solid 9.850.

"I told them in the locker room during the bye that the only way they would disappointment me after our problems on uneven bars and balance beam was if they came out on the floor exercise and didn't give it their all," Patterson said. "When they had such a good floor and vault set to finish the meet out, that showed me that this team has a little bit of spunk and backbone."

Junior Stephanie Kite continues to lead off the Tide's floor routines, posting a 9.825 while sophomore Michelle Reeser scored a 9.875, Rice a 9.900 and Miles brought the Tide home with a 9.950. As a team, Alabama scored a 49.400.

The Tide finished the meet off with a 49.300 on the vault led by Rice's 9.925 and Miles 9.950.

Friday night the Tide attended a banquet with the five other teams at the Classic Center. "One of the nice things about the Super Six Challenge is that the format is very similar to the meets during the championship season," head coach Sarah Patterson said. "From the practice day, to the banquet, to the pre-meet warm-up, everything is very similar."

While Alabama and Georgia were the meet's top-ranked teams, Nebraska made a powerful statement last weekend when they beat the Lady Dogs in Lincoln by more than a point. Florida, under the direction of first-year head coach Rhonda Faehn, also looked to be much improved over last season.

But for Alabama, the principal team to watch was wearing Crimson. "This was our starting point," Sarah Patterson said. "We started tonight and (will now) work on improving each week of the season."

Alabama comes right back to Athens, Ga. next weekend, facing the Lady Dogs in dual meet competition Saturday (Jan. 18) at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Tide opens its home slate Jan. 31 against Michigan at 7 p.m. Season tickets are on sale through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) or online at www.rolltide.com.

Gymnast     Vault  Bars   Beam   Floor  All-Around

M. Bayer    9.700   --     --    9.850     --
L. Holdefer 9.825   --     --     --       --
S. Hrozek   9.850  9.875  9.200   --       --
S. Kite     9.750   --    9.400  9.825     --
A. Miles    9.950  9.825   --    9.950     --
D. Pierce    --    9.725  9.300   --       --
M. Reeser    --    9.725  9.725  9.875     --
J. Rice     9.925  9.950  9.925  9.900   39.700
K. Sterner  9.725  9.850  9.800   --

Totals     49.300 49.100 48.200 49.400  196.000


Georgia    49.425 49.275 49.075 49.550  197.325
Nebraska   49.450 49.175 48.825 49.200  196.700
Florida    48.725 49.375 49.150 49.325  196.575
P.S.U.     48.800 48.075 48.575 48.925  194.375
Oklahoma   48.400 47.075 48.825 48.975  193.725

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