Alabama Gymnasts Win At Kentucky
It was Alabama's fourth 197-plus score of the season, the most in the nation this season.
"What I liked most about tonight is that we had this kind of performance, this kind of score on the road when we weren't in front of 14,000 to 15,000 fans," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "I think it is important because the road to the NCAA championships could go through Kentucky or Penn State or West Virginia - places where we won't have a ton of fan support. Coming into tonight we needed to perform exceptionally well on the road and we did just that."
Senior Morgan Dennis led the way with a 9.975 on the vault and a 39.55 to win the all-around. On the uneven bars sophomore Ashley Priess and junior Kayla Hoffman posted the meet's top scores with matching 9.875s. Dennis and Priess tied for top honors on the balance beam with 9.9s and Dennis won the floor exercise with another 9.9.
"That vault performance was one for the record books," Patterson said. "I'd take that performance every night at the NCAA Championships. Marissa stuck that first vault and one lady wasn't going to be outdone by the one before them."
Alabama goes to 8-1 overall on the season and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference competition while Kentucky falls to 4-6, 1-5 in the SEC.
Alabama started out the vault rotation with 9.9s from freshman Marissa Gutierrez and Priess, followed by a 9.925 from sophomore Ricki Lebegern, a 9.95 from Hoffman and a 9.975 from Dennis. For Gutierrez it was a career high while Priess and Dennis tied their career-best marks.
Alabama tied its season high of 49.3 on the balance beam, led by 9.9s from Dennis and Priess and 9.85s from Lebegern and Stack-Eaton. Alabama posted a 49.075 on the floor exercise behind Dennis' 9.9 in the anchor position while Priess added a 9.85 and Lebegern led the Tide off with a 9.8. Alabama started the night off with a solid 49.2 on the uneven bars led by matching 9.875s from Hoffman and Priess. Stack-Eaton added a 9.85 while freshman Ashley Sledge chipped in a 9.825.
"The area where we can improve the most on from tonight is the floor exercise," Patterson said. "For our team, what tonight meant was that we were able rest Kassi Price, let her heal a little more, and also get more experience for some others which will do nothing but help us down the line."
Alabama has just two dual meets left this season, at No. 1 Oklahoma on March 5 and at home on March 19 against Michigan on UA's Senior Night. Tickets for the UA-Michigan meet are on sale at the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or online at RollTide.com.
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