Tide uses season-high to blowout Auburn

Tide uses season-high to blowout Auburn
Teammates congratrulate Kim Jacob after her routine on beam. / CW | Teresa Portone

The student section beat the rest of the sold-out crowd to Coleman Coliseum Friday night to see the Alabama gymnastics team extend its winning streak over rival Auburn to 101 straight meets.

The Ten Troupe was filling up quickly an hour and a half before the meet began, and the Crimson Tide overwhelmed the Tigers 197.075-194.85 to redeem itself after a blowout loss to No. 1 Florida last week. Alabama’s score was a season-high.

“That’s the sign of a great team,” said head coach Sarah Patterson, who earned her 400th career victory Friday night. “Anytime you have disappointment and you turn that disappointment around and you use an opportunity placed in front of you – that’s what champions are made of. Nobody said this was going to be easy. Nobody said Auburn was going to lay down.”

Alabama had zero falls for the first time all season. Only four of the Tide’s routines scored lower than a 9.8, and no one scored lower than a 9.7.

“We definitely got a kick in the butt [last week],” said junior Geralen Stack-Eaton. “This week with Auburn, we just didn’t want to do what we did last week. We practiced really hard and we came together as a team, and you could tell in our performance tonight.”

The Tide’s first event of the night was highlighted by back-to-back 9.925’s from senior Kayla Hoffman and freshman Diandra Milliner on vault. Milliner’s score was a career-high and the third time in six meets she has scored a 9.9 or higher on vault this season.

“That vault was beautiful,” Patterson said. “It lit a fire under everybody else.”

That momentum carried over into the uneven bars, the event that was disastrous for the Tide last week against Florida. This week was much different. Alabama scored a season-high 49.375 – 1.3 points higher than last week – with 9.9’s from sophomore Ashley Sledge and freshman Jordan Moore. It was just the third routine of the season for Moore.

“That’s big bar routine,” Patterson said of Moore’s performance. “When she does that release move and everybody [gasps] – it’s like the breath just came out of the Coliseum because people aren’t used to seeing something that big.”

Moore said, “It felt great just to hit and be solid on the one event that I can do.”

Alabama held a comfortable one-point advantage through two rotations but did not slow down. The Tide landed all six of its beam routines for a 49.1, and Hoffman ended the floor lineup with a 9.925 to give Alabama a 49.325 on that event.

That floor routine gave Hoffman the all-around title with a 39.525, tying a career-high. It was her third all-around title in six meets this season.

The Tide’s beam score was .05 away from a season-high, and the floor score was just .025 away from another season-high.

“These guys really worked hard this week,” Patterson said. “They came in Saturday after we got back late Friday night; they worked Sunday. Anytime you’re challenged, you use it as an opportunity to move forward.”

Alabama now moves forward to its annual Pink Meet next week, which helps bring awareness to breast cancer and raises money for breast cancer research. The Pink Meet will be Feb. 18 against Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.

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