No. 5 Alabama gymnastics keeps streak going over Auburn

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Alabama’s Ashley Priess scored a 9.875 on the floor exercise to anchor three scores of 9.9 or higher on the event. (Photo courtesy of UA athletics)

The Crimson Tide gymnastics team came through with season-high scores in the vault, balance beam and floor exercise at the perfect time: not only to get off of a two-meet losing streak with a 197.650-196.575 win, but also against Auburn for its 106th win in a row over the Tigers.

But beating Auburn, as significant as beating the hated rival is, was not the team’s proudest moment from the meet.

“They know the rivalry, they know all about that,” Alabama coach Sarah Patterson said. “When you think back, we haven’t lost (to Auburn) in 33 years, some of these kids have parents that are not much older than 40, so the magnitude of it, I don’t think that plays into it.”

Admittedly, the timing was pretty good to set a new season-high overall score of 197.650 in front of a sellout crowd in Coleman Coliseum.

“It helps a little bit, maybe, that it was Auburn, but we don’t take the meet just by who we’re competing against because in the end, it’s our team score that’s going to count for our rankings,” said Alabama’s Marissa Gutierrez, who had a meet-high 9.925 on vault.

Gutierrez said there was one particular move that the entire team put an emphasis on leading up to the Auburn meet.

“Some of the upperclassmen took it upon themselves to ask the coaches if we could do a bunch of stick drills every day and play little games on it each day,” Gutierrez said. “We tried to emulate each of landings the best we could do it and I think that helped us tonight.”

The improved landings made for a grand realization of the team’s potential.

“I think this is the meet that we were looking for,” Patterson said. “We weren’t perfect, but we stepped it up on all levels. We’ve done this in practice, but we never did it in a competition. Tonight, this showed we can be one of the top teams in the country.”

Contributed by Brett Hudson

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