Tide Gymnasts Roll Over Arkansas
Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said her team appeared to be more relaxed than in its first two meets of the year, opening at Auburn and then taking on defending national champion Georgia in the first two meets. Bama won those first two before romping over Arkansas.
"On the opening meet, they were a little nervous and jittery because it was the opening of the season and they hadn't competed since last April and in the second meet I think we took on the five time defending national champions and we knew we could beat them but they had to go out there and do it," Patterson said. "There were a little bit of nerves tonight but I think our ladies relaxed, had confidence in themselves, trusted each other, and I thought we had a lot of fun."
It was Alabama's highest team score during the regular season since posting a 197.475 against Auburn in 2007. The Crimson Tide posted season-high scores on all four apparatus as well.
"I try not to place too much emphasis on scores," Patterson said. "What I do place emphasis on is the stuck landing on vaults. We took some steps forward from the last meet and Ricki Lebegern looked like she stuck a dart when she landed. Morgan (Dennis) also did that on her bar dismount. I just think that we relaxed and cleaned things up a little bit."
Senior Morgan Dennis used a career-high 9.975 to win the vault and a 9.95 to win the floor exercise, she also came away with the all-around title, posting a 39.675, just .050 off her career-best score.
"I think tonight is just the beginning and everything just clicked for us," Dennis said. "It was a huge improvement from last week and I am just really excited for where the season is going."
Sophomore Ashley Sledge, junior Kayla Hoffman, senior Kassi Price and sophomore Ashley Priess all tied for first on the uneven bars with matching 9.9s. Arkansas senior Casey Jo Magee won the balance beam with a 9.925.
Alabama finished off the night with a 49.450 on the floor exercise, led by Dennis' 9.950. Senior Ricki Lebegern and Priess both scored 9.925s on the floor and sophomore Geralen Stack-Eaton scored a 9.85.
Alabama got the night off to a very hot start on the vault, scoring a 49.425 led by 9.9 or better scores from its last three competitors - Lebegern (9.9), Hoffman (9.925) and Dennis (9.975) in the anchor position.
The Tide kept up the pace on the uneven bars with its four 9.9s and Dennis scoring a 9.875 to round out the Tide's 49.475 team mark. Dennis kept things going with a 9.875 on the balance beam leading the Tide to a 49.1 team total. Senior Kassi Price scored a 9.825, Stack-Eaton posted a 9.8 and Priess went for a 9.85.
"I think all of us after the meet were like dang we are a really good team, and we have a really special group of girls here and it clicked tonight and we felt it," Priess said.
After two straight weeks at home, Alabama heads back out on the meet for a rare Saturday contest, taking on Penn State and Minnesota in University Park, Pa. at 7 p.m. ET.
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