Alabama to clash with UCLA in top-ten matchupBy Marquavius Burnett | 02/27/2013 11:00pm
When Alabama and UCLA take to the mats, the stakes are always high.
Between the two programs, there are 12 total national championships. Alabama has taken the last two in a row and UCLA won its last title in 2010.
The No. 4 Crimson Tide and the No. 6 Bruins last met in the Super Six Team Finals of the 2012 NCAA Championships, when the Tide won its sixth national championship with a season-best 197.85 and the Bruins finished third with a 197.75.
“It’s huge,” Patterson said. “They’ve won six national championships, and we’ve won six. In 2011, it came down to the floor, and we were going back and forth like heavyweight boxers. I ranked them as one of the most talented teams in the country.”
Patterson said the Bruins have a unique recruiting advantage that other programs don’t have.
“They have a Hollywood influence,” Patterson said. “Kids sometimes just want to go to Hollywood and the school there, so I think they have some of the finest athletes in the country.
But Patterson hinted that being in Hollywood has its negative effects.
“It’s obviously different,” Patterson said. “In Hollywood, there are not 15,000 fans coming to watch a meet. They work really hard to get a much smaller crowd than we have, but it’s a whole different environment.”
UCLA is hosting the 2013 NCAA Championships, its first since 2004 when the Bruins won the championship and the Tide finished third. Patterson and Alabama’s gymnasts expect to see the Bruins at nationals, just as they have in the past three seasons.
“UCLA is one of our favorite teams to compete against,” Sarah DeMeo said. “They always put up such a tough competition in the postseason, so it’s great to be able to face them during the regular season.”
The last time these teams met during the regular season was in 2008 when Alabama edged UCLA 195.925 to 195.8 in Los Angeles.
This meet begins a tough three-meet stretch for the Tide. Following the matchup with UCLA, Alabama travels to No. 5 LSU before returning home to host No. 1 Oklahoma in its regular season finale.
“It’s great preparation for us,” DeMeo said. “We couldn’t have asked for a tougher schedule, and we are using this to our advantage.”
The Tide will be without senior Marissa Gutierrez, who injured her ankle after landing awkwardly during her first tumbling pass in the floor exercise against Arkansas. Gutierrez spent the week in a walking boot, and there has been no timetable set for her return.
“Sometimes ankle sprains can be five days, sometimes it can be five months,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “My experience is you just don’t know until you see how a person responds.”
Patterson said it would take a team effort to replace Gutierrez’s contributions and noted Lauren Beers as a possible substitute on the floor exercise.
The meet will begin Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.
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