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January 18, 2013

Tide gymnastics downs LSU

The No. 6 University of Alabama gymnastics team brought its quest for a third straight national championship to the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum on Friday night and gave its home crowd of 13,921 plenty to cheer about.

The Crimson Tide overcame a sluggish finish and topped the No. 5 LSU Tigers 196.575-195.525 for its second win of the season, both in the Southeastern Conference.

"I'm very proud of this team. We knew it was going to be a close meet," Tide coach Sarah Patterson said. "Certainly we can look at our score, know that we counted a fall and know we have an opportunity to be much better than we were tonight."

Alabama senior Marissa Gutierrez suffered a fall during her floor routine on the last rotation. Two routines later, junior Diandra Milliner fell on the last pass of her floor exercise to keep Alabama from reaching a team score of 197 for the first time in the young season.

"I'm just thankful that they all kind of walked away from it," Patterson said. "That's the most important thing. Those are things we'll work on in practice."

Gutierrez and Milliner have been stalwarts in Alabama's floor rotation during their careers. According to Patterson, the falls were a matter of conditioning - a combination of it being just the second meet of the season and the pair not conserving enough energy for the last tumbling pass.

"That was the event I said, from the beginning, this is where we're going to get better over the course of the season," Patterson said. "I think we're still not where we need to be in terms of overall conditioning."

Their teammates weren't concerned with the rough ending, though, and are confident the veterans won't make the same mistake twice.

"They gave it all they had, but it just wasn't quite there yet," senior Ashley Priess said. "We're only in the second competition of the season. That's an easy fix right there, and I feel positive they're not going to want to land that way again for the rest of the season."

Luckily for the Crimson Tide, LSU wasn't exactly on top of its game either.

The Tigers, who posted the third-highest score in the country through two weeks in their last meet against Florida, counted two falls, one each on uneven bars and balance beam, giving Alabama the win.

LSU's Randii Wyrick and Rheagan Courville both fell during consecutive uneven bar routines in the first rotation, putting LSU in an early 49.45-48.4 hole.

After cutting the Alabama lead by a tenth of a point over the next two rotations, the Tigers had to count another fall on balance beam when Kaleigh Dickson and Jessica Savona suffered back-to-back errors. The falls ensured an Alabama win despite the Crimson Tide counting a fall of its own.

"This was a great home start for us, and there were a lot of really bright spots," Priess said. "The errors were obvious and something that's very feasible for us to work on and improve on. Overall I feel really hopeful for this team. I think we have a long ways to go still, but I think we're ready for it and we're ready to attack it."

The meet will be replayed on ESPNU at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. Jan. 27.

The Crimson Tide will return to Coleman Coliseum next Friday against Kentucky for its annual Power of Pink meet.



Kim Jacob - 9.825
Kaitlyn Clark - 9.9
Ashley Sledge - 9.85
Kayla Williams - 9.925
Marissa Gutierrez - 9.85
Diandra Milliner - 9.925
Team total - 49.45

Uneven bars

Ashley Sledge - 9.9
Becca Alexin - 9.85
Kim Jacob - 9.775
Kaitlyn Clark - 9.775
Ashley Priess - 9.9
Sarah DeMeo - 9.9
Team total - 49.325

Balance beam

Marissa Gutierrez - 9.8
Diandra Milliner - 9.75
Kayla Williams - 9.775
Sarah DeMeo - 9.75
Ashley Priess - 9.85
Kim Jacob - 9.875
Team total - 49.05

Floor exercise

Sarah DeMeo - 9.9
Brooke Parker - 9.725
Ashley Sledge - 9.85
Marissa Gutierrez - 9.3
Kim Jacob - 9.9
Diandra Milliner - 9.375
Team total - 48.75

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