Gymnasts Compete For NCAA Tourney

LEXINGTON, Ky. - With the practice day of the NCAA Central Regional Championships behind them, the Alabama gymnastics team is ready to compete for a 25th regional title and most importantly a 28th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships in Memorial Coliseum at the University of Kentucky.

"We had a good practice and we adjusted well to the equipment," Alabama Coach Sarah Patterson said. "I think it helps that we've been here once already this season and we are comfortable with the arena and the apparatus."

On Saturday starting at 6 p.m. ET, Alabama, the Central Regional's No. 1 seed, will vie with No. 2 seed Nebraska, No. 3 seed Illinois, host school Kentucky, Central Michigan and Michigan State for one of the two bids available from this regional to the NCAA Championship final site in Gainesville, Fla.

"I think we are in control of our own situation," Patterson said. "As long as we do our job, we can have the opportunity to advance. I think because we have seen the best teams in the country, we won't be looking over our shoulder. Sometimes to win a championship at the regionals or finals everything has to be perfect, but we don't have to do that here, we just have to be very good. The top two teams advance. As long as we do our job, everything is going to be just fine."

The Tide's streak of 27 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances is the second best in the history of collegiate gymnastics and spans from Alabama's first championship appearance in 1983.

"The most important thing is that we use the regional as the opportunity to advance ourselves to the finals of the NCAA championship," Patterson said. "As I've said before, this is the time that we become more like basketball than any other sport because, as we've seen over the course of this season you can have a loss and the way our ranking system works your standing may not change, but from this point on rankings don't matter. "

"At this point it's all about where you finish and advancing. I think from that perspective that's how the sport changes the most for us at this point in the season."

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