LSU visits for gymnastics meet

Despite the Valentine's Day timing of No. 3 ranked Alabama Gymnastics' 7 p.m. meet against No. 10 LSU this Friday (Feb. 14) in Coleman Coliseum, the competition isn't likely to be a love-fest.

The two squads have traded wins over the last four seasons, with the home team winning each meet. It has become one of the top rivalry meets on the Southeastern Conference schedule. Both squads are led by long standing coaches. LSU mentor D-D Breaux celebrated her 25th season as the Tiger's head coach last season and Sarah and David Patterson are in the midst of their silver anniversary this season. And not only are both teams in the SEC, but both are in the NCAA's Central Region.

"I think this is one of those showdown meets," Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. "I think this is one of those meets that D-D circles on her calendar. There are a lot of factors that add to the rivalry, not the least of which is that we are in the same NCAA region."

Alabama is coming off five straight 196.750-plus meets, including four 197-plus meets in row. The Tide is also coming off a stretch that saw them on the road for five of its first six meets. The Tide won its first home meet of the season two weeks ago, beating Michigan 197.200-196.525. Last weekend saw Patterson's crew down Denver and Air Force at Denver.

One of the keys for the Crimson Tide's success so far has been the depth of its lineup. In the Tide's six outings, Alabama has used as many as 11 athletes in its lineup. Such fluidity in the lineup has helped strengthen that depth, which has paid dividends when injuries and illnesses have cropped up.

"We are making big steps forward up and down our lineup," Patterson said. "Everyone has moved forward and part of the reason for that is the meet experience we've been able to give them and part of it is because everyone is pushing one another for a spot in the lineup."

The regular season is 12 meets long, and Friday's competition is the start of the second half, and marks the Tide's stretch run toward the post-season.

Fans attending the meet will get a 2003 magnetic schedule and a poster commemorating the Tide's 2002 NCAA Gymnastics Championship. Tickets for the event are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2088) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or online at www.rolltide.com.


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