Tide Gymnastics Opens At Auburn

The Alabama gymnastics team, the defending Southeastern Conference Champion, opens its 2010 season Friday at Auburn starting at 7 p.m. CST in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

"We're excited to get the season started," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson, now in her 32nd year as the Crimson Tide's mentor, said. "We're at a point in our training where we just need to go out and compete and then evaluate where we are and move forward."

Alabama is ranked third in the preseason coaches' poll while the Tigers are ranked 14th. This season marks the second year in a row that Alabama will open the season at Auburn and the 18th time since 1979 that the Tide opens the season on the road. Alabama will be going for its 99th consecutive win over the Tiger, a streak that stretches back to 1980.

To make the Tide's first meet feel a little more like home, The Medalist Club, Alabama's booster organization, has charted two busses to bring fans to the meet on Friday, one for Medalist Club members and guests, and one for UA students. For information on the Medalist Club bus, fans can go to www.gymtide.com and for information on the UA student bus, fans can go to the gymnastics page on RollTide.com.

The Crimson Tide returns a dozen gymnasts from last year's team that finished second at the NCAA Championships in addition to winning its sixth SEC and 24th NCAA regional titles. Alabama's lineup, virtually untouched from last season, will look familiar to UA fans..

"We'll start out with a lineup very similar to the one we finished last season with," Patterson said. "We're a very experienced team coming into the season and that will certainly help."

Alabama returns seven All-Americans to this year's roster, including seniors Morgan Dennis and Ricki Lebegern who led the Tide in routines last season, as well as senior Kassi Price, junior Kayla Hoffman and sophomores Ashley Priess and Rachel Terry. The Tide also returns sophomore all-arounder Geralen Stack-Eaton, who earned Freshman All-SEC honors last season.

"We are in a good position, but at the same time, we're not nearly as strong as we're going to be," Patterson said. "Every day we get a little bit better, adding skills in, adding people in. I know that the team we start out with will not be the team we end up with even a month from now. We're going to get better in all areas."

After opening with the Tigers on Friday, the Tide returns to Coleman Coliseum to open its home season next Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the five-time defending NCAA Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Alabama season tickets are on sale through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum and online at RollTide.com.

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