Gymnastics closes out season with win on Senior Night

As the University’s Spring Break approached, the Alabama gymnastics team was swamped with homework and midterms.

Despite a stress-filled week of preparation, the No. 2 Crimson Tide closed out the regular season with a comfortable 196.95-194.75 win over LSU.

“This was not an easy event for us,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “This week was stressful in a lot of ways. The girls were very stressed and fatigued academically. I’m just glad we walked away.”

Alabama came into the meet with a streak of four straight meets scoring higher than 197, the only team in the nation to do so this season. Although the Tide came up just short of that, its 196.95 included counting a 9.3 on beam, something Patterson attributes to the mental fatigue of her team.

“We started off great on vault,” Patterson said. “It was the events that take mental toughness – beam and a little on floor – that’s when fatigue shows up.”

The Tide’s vault score of 49.525 was a season-high, as was its floor score of 49.475. Freshman Sarah DeMeo won the all around with a career-high 39.45, highlighted by a career-high 9.95 on beam.

“I tried to block out all the emotions from the seniors leaving and it being their last meet in Coleman,” DeMeo said. “I really felt confident in myself and my team. I just had fun with it.”

It was a special night for Kayla Hoffman, as she was honored – along with Alyssa Chapman and Megan Mashburn – before the meet for Senior Night. A fall on beam ruined her chances at the all-around title, but she posted impressive scores of 9.95 on vault and 9.925 on floor.

“It was definitely an emotional night,” Hoffman said. “I love our crowd. I love our team. I love competing here. I got a little hard on myself with some mistakes, but I’m glad I finished strong. I just have to take it in stride and get ready for SEC’s.”

LSU was the last team to defeat Alabama in Coleman Coliseum, more than two years ago. Alabama now has a streak of 13 straight regular-season wins at home.

The Tide now looks ahead to the SEC Championships on March 19 in Birmingham, where No. 2 Alabama will have the chance to avenge its lone loss of the season to No. 1 Florida.

Although this week was hectic for the Tide, Patterson said things will be different next weekend.

“This week will be a lot better with Spring Break,” she said. “I feel like we can recover, regroup and step ahead to the SEC’s.”

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