GymTiders face No. 11 Tigers

It's going to be a big weekend for the No. 2 ranked Alabama Gymnastics team. Not only do they bring No. 11 Auburn to town, sporting its highest ranking in a decade, but Sarah Patterson has also put out the call to her alumni.

Nearly 40 of Alabama's former gymnasts will be in town this weekend, looking on Saturday (March 1) while the current edition of the Tide faces the Tigers starting at 7 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.

"It's always great to have our ladies back and be able to catch up with them and their lives," head coach Sarah Patterson said. "They are all leading such full and vital lives, it makes me tired just hearing about them."

Among those slated to come back are All-American Barbara (Mack) Harding, four-time NCAA Champion Penney (Hauschild) Buxton and NCAA floor exercise champion Kim (Kelly) Warren along with All-Americans Chasity (Junkin) Horton and Gwen Spidle.

"And these days it's not just our ladies who come back, it's their families and those families have really grown over the last few years," Patterson said with a laugh. "There will be plenty of kids running around Saturday night."

With all the excitement of alumni night, it might be easy to overlook the Auburn Tigers, but that would be a mistake. Auburn is sporting its best ranking since 1993 and last weekend, when Alabama scored a 196.600 against Florida, Auburn scored a 196.650 to beat Kentucky.

"Auburn is much improved," Patterson said. "We're going to have our work cut out for us."

Alabama fans will likely see freshman Ashley Miles make her Coleman Coliseum debut on the vault Saturday. Miles was having an outstanding season through the first four meets of the season, all coming on the road, but what has now been diagnosed as a strained knee kept her out of competition for the past four meets.

The first 1,000 fans through the door Saturday will get 2003 Gymnastics Trading Cards, featuring all 14 of the Tide's current roster. Children 15 and under who buy their tickets at the door will receive a one-dollar discount ($2). Tickets are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) or online at

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