Alabama Gymnasts Win At Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The No. 1 ranked Alabama Gymnastics team posted its second highest score of the season, a 196.600 here Saturday night on the Penn State campus to beat the No. 19 Penn State Nittany Lions (196.025) and No. 23 Minnesota Golden Gophers (192.825) in front of 2,046 fans in Rec Hall.

"The biggest thing for us tonight was we displayed great teamwork," Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. "We had some inconsistencies to work through - adjusting to the equipment and people who weren't 100-percent – and I altered our lineup to ensure our success in the future. I'm very proud that the people we inserted stepped up and performed well. We must have had six different lineups at different points tonight, it was definitely a long working night at the office."

Senior Morgan Dennis, the Tide's lone all-arounder, won the meet with a 39.275. This meet, with its fluid lineup, was a far cry from UA's season opener where Alabama used five all-arounders.

"Morgan Dennis struggled on the uneven bars during in warm-ups and I elected to give her the night off," Patterson said. "But then we put her in at the last moment for Ashley Sledge, who had an off night and although Morgan's score might not have shown it, she came out and rocked her routine and it was a key performance for us."

Sophomore Geralen Stack-Eaton won the vault with a 9.925. Sophomore Ashley Priess won the uneven bars and balance beam, scoring 9.925 and 9.9 respectively. Penn State's Brandi Personett won the floor exercise with a 9.9.

"I told our ladies at the end of the meet that great teams find a way to excel on a night like tonight," Patterson said. "We won't go all season having star-struck nights like we had against Arkansas. We will have nights when we have to work through challenges and that's what we did tonight. I told them good teams find a way to win despite difficulties."

Alabama finished the night off on the balance beam with a meet-best 49.2 led by Priess' 9.9, Stack-Eaton's 9.875 and Dennis' 9.875. The Tide was led off by senior Kassi Price's solid 9.8. On the uneven bars the Tide scored a meet-best 49.15 led by Priess' 9.925. Price posted a 9.875 on the uneven bars and Stack-Eaton posted a 9.85.

"Kassi did a great job stepping into the leadoff spot on the balance beam at the last moment in place of Ricki Lebegern," Patterson said. "And I was pleased with how Alyssa Chapman stepped in for Geralen on the floor exercise. As I said, tonight was about great teamwork."

On the vault, Alabama scored a meet-best 49.375 behind Stack-Eaton's 9.925, a 9.9 from Dennis and 9.875s from junior Kayla Hoffman and senior Ricki Lebegern. The Tide started the night off on the floor exercise, totaling a 48.875 led by matching 9.85s from Priess and Dennis in the last two spots.

Alabama stays on the road next weekend, traveling to Baton Rouge, La. to face LSU Friday at 7 p.m. before returning home to Coleman Coliseum to face Florida on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

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