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January 25, 2013

Tide beats Kentucky in Power of Pink Meet

TUSCALOOSA | With a soldout Coleman Coliseum full of fans decked out in pink, the No. 5 University of Alabama gymnastics team defeated No. 15 Kentucky 196.575-194.8 on Friday night.

It was Alabama's ninth annual Power of Pink meet, which raises awareness for breast cancer and honors survivors of the disease. Both teams sported pink leotards, and Alabama gymnasts were introduced alongside breast cancer survivors, including two members of Crimson Tide coach Sarah Patterson's first recruiting class and a 22-year-old December graduate of UA.

"It's always great to see so many fans in the seats and everyone wearing pink this week," sophomore Kayla Williams said. "It was a great experience for us and for all the fans. We go out there and we don't just do it for ourselves or for our own score. We're doing it for the survivors and the people who are battling."

Once the ceremonies and festivities finished and the actual meet began, Alabama had to overcome more adversity late in a meet, while Kentucky crumbled against the two-time defending national champions.

After Alabama counted a fall on balance beam, junior Sarah DeMeo led off the floor exercise by stumbling out of bounds. The 15,075 pink-clad fans held their breath as the remaining gymnasts finished their routines.

But seniors Marissa Gutierrez and Ashley Sledge each scored 9.9s just a week after they both fumbled away their floor routines against LSU, and Alabama wrapped up its third win of the season with a big, pink bow.

"We just knew we had to bring it back on floor for the fans, for the survivors, for our team," said junior Kim Jacob, who won her third all-around in as many meets.

Gutierrez led off the third rotation with a fall on balance beam. The next four gymnasts all hit their routines, but senior Ashley Priess fell, the second week in a row Alabama has had an experienced gymnast count a fall.

Meanwhile Kentucky, like LSU last weekend, buckled in Coleman Coliseum. The Wildcats posted season-low totals on two of four events and its lowest team score of the season.

Kentucky had to count a fall on uneven bars and continued to struggle on the vault, with no UK gymnast scoring over a 9.825.

Alabama posted season-high totals on uneven bars and floor exercise.

The win keeps Alabama perfect and undefeated in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is also 19-0 in team history in its pink leotards.

"It was a spectacular night," Patterson said. "Tonight wasn't about the scores necessarily. It was about the survivors."

The meet will be replayed on FSN Feb. 2 at 3:30 p.m.

Alabama hits the road next weekend for a Saturday meet against the Georgia Bulldogs, ranked No. 9 entering this weekend.

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