Tide Gymnasts Pre-Season Third

The defending Southeastern Conference Champion Alabama Gymnastics team is third in the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches preseason coaches' top-25 poll.

"I hope our team uses the preseason ranking as a motivational tool to help sharpen us for the 2010 season," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "Over the past 25 years we have been ranked in the nation's top six on an annual basis despite our graduation losses or level of team experience, but this year is different – if our ladies prepare for the season in the upcoming break with dedication and determination this team has the capability of competing for the National Championship."

Georgia, the five-time defending NCAA Champion, is at No. 1, followed by Utah at No. 2 and the Crimson Tide. Florida is at No. 4 and UCLA rounds out the top five.

The Tide's 2010 schedule is filled with teams in the preseason top-20 going into the season, including seven teams ranked among the top 12. Four Southeastern Conference teams are ranked in the top six, including Georgia, Alabama, Florida and No. 6 LSU. Arkansas, which made its first NCAA Super Six Team Finals appearance last season, checks in at No. 8.

"We need our upperclassmen to set the example and our underclassmen to learn quickly that success only comes through hard work and perseverance," Patterson, in her 32nd year as Alabama's head coach, said.

The Tide opens the season at No. 14 Auburn on Jan. 8 before returning home on Jan. 15 against No. 1 Georgia. Alabama will also face Arkansas and Florida at home as well as No. 12 Michigan and No. 20 Arizona. In addition to seeing Auburn and LSU on the road, the Tide will travel to No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 11 Penn State and No. 22 Minnesota during the regular season.

"We have a tremendous opportunity at the beginning of the season to make a statement immediately that we are a team to contend with and I challenge them to do this," Patterson said.

Season tickets are on sale now through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum and online at RollTide.com.

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