Bama Gymnastics Holds On To No. 1

The Alabama gymnastics team of Coach Sarah Patterson remains the nation's No. 1 ranked team going into the NCAA Regionals. The Crimson Tide has been the NCAA's top-ranked team for five weeks in a row and eight weeks overall. Bama maintains its top ranking in the nation despite having finished second to Florida at the Southeastern Conference Championships last week.



In individual events, Alabama is ranked No. 1 on the vault, second on the floor exercise and third on the uneven bars and balance beam.

The rest of the top five remains the same from a week ago, with Oklahoma and UCLA standing at second and third respectively while Florida and Georgia are fourth and fifth.

Individually, sophomore Ashley Priess is ranked seventh in the all-around, senior Morgan Dennis is ninth and senior Ricki Lebegern is 17th. Dennis is ranked sixth on the vault while junior Kayla Hoffman and sophomore Geralen Stack-Eaton are tied for 18th.

Priess is ranked second on the balance beam while Dennis is 16th. Dennis is third on the floor exercise while Priess is 11th, Hoffman is 13th, senior Kassi Price is 16th and Stack-Eaton is 25th on the uneven bars.

Alabama, of course, will compete as the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Central Regional.

The Crimson Tide will be joined by No. 2 seed Nebraska, No. 3 seed Illinois, host school Kentucky, Central Michigan and Michigan State. The top 18 teams in the nation by regional qualifying score are seeded into the six regional sites. The remaining three teams come from within the region.

"This is the portion of the season where we're the most like basketball," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "The goal is to advance to the finals of the NCAA Championships and all that truly matters is your performance on that night."

The top two teams from each regional move on to the NCAA Championships, which will be held April 22-24 in Gainesville, Fla.

This will mark Alabama's second visit to Lexington this season. Alabama won its dual meet against the Wildcats on Feb. 26 with a 197.225.

"We're excited to be returning to Lexington where we are very familiar with the arena and the equipment," Patterson said. "We're comfortable in Memorial Coliseum. We had the opportunity to compete there earlier this year when we had a record-setting vault performance."

The Tide will start the regional on a bye before moving to the floor exercise for its first event. Alabama will then advance to the vault before taking its second bye of the evening. The Tide will then finish the meet with the uneven bars and balance beam.

Alabama is also familiar with the majority of its regional opponents. The Tide has seen Kentucky twice this season and faced Central Michigan at last year's NCAA Northeast Regional and Illinois in the preliminaries of the 2009 NCAA Championships.

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