Tide Vs.Sooners Much Anticipated Meet
"We have met some of the best teams in the country within the Southeastern Conference and now we step out of the conference and we face a team that has been ranked first or second all season long," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "We are stepping out of our comfort zone in Coleman Coliseum and we're going up against great competition that we will contend with down the road for a national championship. I think it will be a perfect way to close the road portion of our regular season."
Since the second week of the season, either the Crimson Tide or the Sooners have been at No. 1 with the other team standing at No. 2. Friday's meet marks the first time since Jan. 18, 2008, when top-ranked Florida hosted Georgia, that the top-two teams in the nation have met. It also marks the first time since the 2004 season that Alabama has been a part of a 1 vs. 2 showdown. It will be a new experience for the Sooners, who enjoyed their first stint at No. 1 earlier this season.
As would be expected, the two teams are closely matched, even sharing the nation's No. 1 ranking on the balance beam. In the rankings Alabama holds the edge on the vault and floor exercise while the Sooners hold an edge on the uneven bars. Should the meet come down to the last rotation, it will be the Tide's top-ranked beam squad against Oklahoma's fourth-ranked floor exercise team.
"Friday will certainly provide a benchmark for us to see where we are," Patterson said.
The meet will also feature a showdown of reigning conference gymnasts of the week as UA senior Morgan Dennis earned the SEC honor for the second time this season earlier this week while Sooner sophomore Sara Stone earned the honor in the Big 12.
Another unique feature to this meet is that it will be broadcast live in Oklahoma. The telecasts will be produced by the Sooner Sports Network and will air on Cox Channel 7 in Norman and Oklahoma City and Cox Channel 3 in Tulsa. Bart Conner, who provided commentary for Alabama's meets against Georgia and Florida that were broadcast by ESPN2 earlier this season, will be on the announce crew for the broadcast. While the Crimson Tide has had countless meets broadcast on a tape delayed basis, Friday will mark the first time an Alabama Gymnastics meet has been televised live.
Alabama was most recently in Norman for the 2008 NCAA South Central Regional Championships. Friday will mark the first time the Tide has been to Oklahoma during the regular season since 1991 when current assistant coach Dana (Dobransky) Duckworth was a sophomore.
While the Tide hasn't been a regular in Norman, they have seen quite a bit of the Sooners in pressure situations over the last several years. Last season marked the third year in a row that the two teams shared the floor at a regional championships and the third time in a row both teams advanced to the NCAA Championships. Overall, the Tide and Sooners have advanced out of the same regional four of the last six years.
Friday is Alabama's last regular-season road meet and next to the last dual meet of the year. The Tide closes out the regular season at home March 19 against No. 12 Michigan on UA's Senior Night. Tickets for the 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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