TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — After last week’s win over LSU, Alabama gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson poked and proded at her team to pick up its conditioning level.
She got just that Friday night, especially in clutch situations, as the Crimson Tide beat Kentucky 196.575-194.8 in front of 15,075 fans in Coleman Coliseum for the Power of Pink meet supporting breast cancer. The meet was the 10th sellout in program history, the ninth in the last eight years.
“As the girls said, tonight wasn’t about the scores necessarily, it was about the survivors,” Patterson said. “What touched me most was not the 17 survivors we had on the floor, but they asked all breast cancer survivors to stand and then all cancer survivors to stand. To see the number of people that have battled, I think it’s amazing.”
One key finish came from Kayla Williams on the balance beam, who saw Marissa Gutierrez fall to open the event but managed a 9.9. The routine, coming off the heels of a disappointing performance last week, was so satisfying that
she celebrated before saluting the judges.
“I went out there and I knew what I had to do,” Williams said. “We had a fall earlier in the lineup and I didn’t want us to have to count one.
“I was struggling a couple of times in my routine when I did a skill good to not smile and get excited and when I stuck my dismount, I couldn’t hold it any longer.”
In the next and final event, Ashley Sledge turned in a 9.875 to turn the momentum after Sarah DeMeo started the event with a 9.5.
The Tide ended the floor exercise with three straight scores of 9.9 or above, as Gutierrez scored a 9.9, Kim Jacob scored a 9.925 and Diandra Milliner anchored the event with a 9.9.
“I did like that tonight, we finished it on floor,” Patterson said. “Last week we had some problems and it’s great to see your athletes come and finish strong.”
Jacob finished strong as an individual also, shaking off a near fall on balance beam to win her 3rd all-around crown in as many meets. Jacob’s strong finish stemmed more from the previous six months than the two hours in front of the crowd.
“She doesn’t surprise me because what she does is the same thing she does day-in and day-out,” Patterson said. “She is without a doubt one of the hardest-working young ladies in the last three years and she doesn’t just do it in the gym: she does it in the weight room.”
Contributed by Brett Hudson