Alabama Gymnasts Defeat Florida

The No. 2 Alabama gymnastics team rebounded from its lone loss of the season last weekend at LSU to beat No. 6 Florida in Coleman Coliseum, 197.425-196.600, just a fraction of a point off its best score of the season Friday night. Although snow earlier in the day and unusually cold weather made travel difficult, 12,466 fans attended the clash of top ten teams.

"I can't say enough about the over 12,000 people that came tonight, even when everything is closed and they are being told to stay home," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "That is a real tribute to these athletes that the people showed up tonight."

Alabama swept the individual events, led by sophomore Geralen Stack-Eaton who won the all-around with a career-best score of 39.625.

"I was trying not to think about it too much all night," Stack-Eaton said of her all-around win. "But when I got out on floor and I stuck my first pass, I really started feeling good about my chances. I finished my last pass, and it was just like, 'Yeah!'"

Senior Ricki Lebegern won the vault while Stack-Eaton, junior Kayla Hoffman and senior Kassi Price shared top honors on the uneven bars. Sophomore Ashley Priess won the balance beam while senior Morgan Dennis closed out the meet by taking first the floor exercise.

"We are using seasoned veterans, and our two sophomores are competing like seniors," Patterson said. "We are getting great leadership from Morgan (Dennis), Ricki (Lebegern) and Kassi (Price), who are doing a tremendous job."

Alabama got the night off to a hot start on the vault, posting a season-high 49.5 led by Lebegern's career-best 9.975. Freshman Marissa Gutierrez started the meet off with a career-high 9.875 while Stack-Eaton tied her career-best with a 9.925.

"We really nailed some vaults tonight," Patterson said. "The one Geralen did tonight was perfect and then Ricki not budging, those things really ignite the crowd."

The Tide kept things rolling on the uneven bars, posting a solid 49.175 led by 9.875s from Stack-Eaton, Hoffman and Price. For Stack-Eaton it was another event where she tied her career-best score.

On the balance beam, the Tide posted a 49.275, its second highest mark of the season, led by Priess' 9.95 in the anchor spot. Stack-Eaton added a 9.9, tying her career best, while Dennis posted a 9.875..

Alabama finished the night with a season-high performance on the floor exercise, going 49.475 led by a huge 9.975 performance from Dennis in the meet's last routine. Stack-Eaton and Lebegern both tied their career-high scores with matching 9.925s.

Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum next Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Arizona for the Tide's sixth annual "Power of Pink". Both teams will put aside their school colors and wear pink to help promote awareness in the fight against breast cancer.

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