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February 15, 2013

Alabama gymnastics has won 105 straight over Auburn

TUSCALOOSA | Few rivalries in sports are more lopsided than the one between Alabama and Auburn in women's gymnastics. The Crimson Tide has beaten the Tigers in 105 consecutive meets, a run that spans three decades and includes regular season meets as well as postseason competition.

No. 5 Alabama will try to make it 106 in a row tonight when the No. 15 Tigers visit Coleman Coliseum. "The Streak," as it's come to be known, doesn't appear to be in danger, at least on paper. But in-state rivalries can bring out the best - or worst - in teams at the most unsuspecting times.

"What I want the ladies to focus on is not 'The Streak' as everybody talks about," Alabama coach Sarah Patterson said. "Because we can't control what the other team does. We just need to be at our best. We are still the No. 5 team in the country right now, and we have not nearly hit our peak."

The two rivals are currently trending in opposite directions. Alabama has lost its last two meets, while Auburn has reeled off two victories in a row.

The Crimson Tide, however, feels it is still a long way away from reaching its full potential. And there would be no better time than at home against Auburn to finally put everything together.

"We know that they're probably going to have the meet of their life," senior Marissa Gutierrez said. "So we just have to use that to fuel us and make us even better."

The disparity in the series record isn't exactly reflected in the previous few meetings between the schools, especially in Auburn. Alabama has won the last three meets in Auburn by a combined score of just .55.

And the magnitude of the rivalry isn't lost on Patterson's gymnasts, many of whom come from outside of the state of Alabama. She said she relies on the older gymnasts to educate them. And once they experience a football season it becomes even more apparent.

"I think people kind of get it with football, with how big of a rivalry things are," said senior Ashley Sledge, who is originally from Birmingham. "So by the time we get around to gymnastics season everyone has it: you don't want to lose to Auburn."

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