Gym Dawgs Spring Past Wounded Tide

Sarah Patterson and Nick Saban have won 9 National Championships between them, including 4 since the fall of 2009. - HootSuite 2013

"We didn't perform to the best of our abilities tonight," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "We got a little behind the eight ball on the uneven bars and they were on fire on vault. When that happens, we have to really buckle down on vault and while we did a good job, we didn't nail all our landings."

Athens, Georgia is known for awesome music, good food and some devout fans of football... for the past twenty-six years it has also been known as the home of the UGA Gym Dogs. Just as Bama may struggle to ignite interest in the other sports on campus besides football, UGA has struggled with similar issues and a similar fate has befallen their gymnastics program. Even after winning ten NCAA National Championships, their "sold out" crowds are only 9,924 (as compared to Alabama GymTide sold out crowds of 15,075). Even in a sellout, I would estimate that their stadium was still around 1/3 empty red seats - and this was on Alumni Night, where fifty former Gym Dogs were honored before the meet. The student section (aka "The Dawg Pound") was rowdy, and they had their share of events and giveaways to get the students involved, but seats were available even there once the meet started.

Alabama started things off with a shaky uneven bars rotation, scoring a season-low 48.95, led by a 9.875 from junior Sarah DeMeo. Senior Ashley Sledge was scratched from the vault and floor exercise after straining her shoulder on the uneven bars. It's not the first time she's had an injury like this, either, so Patterson was swift to make her decision. "When I saw she struggled in warmups on the following event, it was like there's no way I was taking the chance on that," Patterson said. "It afforded some other people to step in and get some experience as well, which is going to make us better down the road."

The Tide scored a 49.375 on the vault behind 9.9s from sophomore Kaitlyn Clark, senior Marissa Gutierrez and junior Diandra Milliner. It was the Tide's second-highest vault total of the season. The Bulldogs, however, held a commanding lead at the halfway point after posting a 49.475 on vault and a 49.275 on the uneven bars.

"I didn't see all of Georgia's routines, but what I did see told me that they were on fire tonight," Patterson said. "I've said this before, from the time that coaching staff was hired, they had this meet circled in red on their calendar. We came in with a target on our backs."

Alabama had its best rotation of the night on the floor exercise, scoring a season-best 49.475 behind career-high 9.95s from Milliner and Jacob and a 9.9 from senior Marissa Gutierrez. The Tide closed the meet with a 49.150 on the balance beam, paced by senior Ashley Priess' 9.875.

"Tonight the atmosphere was great and the environment was great," Patterson said. "I think it made some of our ladies a little nervous, and we're just going to have to learn how to handle that. We have a great chance to do just that next week when we go down to Gainesville."

The one thing that I did notice was that it got loud once the Dawgs knew that they had won the meet and their final gymnast had finished on the beam. I was honestly surprised that our very own Diandra Milliner was able to hear her music begin for her floor routine over the crowd noise. (See video below)

Another thing that I noticed was what I would call "live" scoring. In the past, at least for the final round, they seemed to have always held off totaling the scores until after all gymnasts had competed. This time, however, there was a live tally going on the scoreboard and I noticed that there were actually people leaving between the time that UGA completed their final beam routine and the time that D. Milliner completed her floor routine. UGA fans knew that they had already won the meet, so they were gathering their things and leaving. It put a bit of a damper on the atmosphere, and a few others sitting around me noticed this as well. After the meet another Bama fan mentioned that we do this in Coleman at each of our meets now. She stated it seems to put a rush on the awards ceremony at the end of the meet and took away from the anticipation. I personally hate that this is what has become the "norm" at meets now. I'd love to hear ideas of ways that the closing minutes of the meet and the awards ceremony could be made more exciting for the fans.

After the meet was over I took my daughter over to meet with Coach Sarah Patterson. I reminded her of who I was ("Hi, I'm sure you don't remember me, but when I was in college 17 years ago another student and I started the Ten Troupe. This is my daughter. It's so nice to see you again" ::Hug::). She remembered me immediately and promised to sit down with me (in person or on the phone) for an interview. She spoke highly of the article I had written about the UGA/Bama gymnastics rivalry, and even said that she had retweeted it from her twitter stream. I'm telling y'all: if my daughter hadn't been there, this Bama gal might have made a complete fool of herself and dissolved into a puddle. Both of our Coaches Patterson are amazing people with hearts of gold. They have contributed so much to our school and deserve our respect and support. If you find yourself in Tuscaloosa on a meet night PLEASE do yourself a favor and check out our amazing team of girls and our coaches. As it was stated in the "Alabama: More Than Just Football" article that bammer wrote yesterday, this woman and her husband are Bama gymnastics' version of Coach Paul ‘Bear' Bryant. We will never see another coach like her at the University in our lifetime. She and her husband have built a legacy, folks. Get in there and be a part of it!

Alabama remains on the road next week, traveling to Gainesville, Florida.to take on the #1 ranked Gators on Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. ET. Alabama returns home on Feb. 15 to take on the Auburn Tigers at 7:30 p.m.


Vault

Team Standing


Uneven Parallel Bars

University of Georgia


Balance Beam

University of Alabama


Floor Exercise


University of Georgia
Head Coach
: Danna Durante

Gymnast

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

AllArr

Lindsey Cheek

9.925

9.800

9.250

Noel Couch

9.875

9.875

Chelsea Davis

9.850

9.925

Kaylan Earls

9.950

9.875

Cat Hires

9.850

Brandie Jay

9.950

9.825

9.900

Sarah Persinger

9.825

9.850

9.800

Brittany Rogers

9.900

9.900

9.875

Christa Tanella

9.825

9.875

Shayla Worley

9.800

9.875

9.600

Team Totals

49.475

49.275

49.425

49.325

197.500

University of Alabama
Head Coach: Sarah & David Patterson

Gymnast

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

AllArr

Becca Alexin

9.825

Lauren Beers

9.775

Kaitlyn Clark

9.900

9.275

9.800

Sarah DeMeo

9.875

9.150

9.800

Lora Leigh Frost

9.850

Marissa Gutierrez

9.900

9.825

9.900

Kim Jacob

9.825

9.625

9.850

9.950

39.250

Diandra Milliner

9.900

9.950

Brooke Parker

9.825

Ashley Priess

9.850

9.875

Ashley Sledge

9.775

Kayla Williams

9.850

9.800

Team Totals

49.375

48.950

49.150

49.475

196.950

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