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Alabama ties season-best score for 108th win against Auburn

Marc Torrence

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AUBURN — The Auburn gymnastics team did everything it could with visiting Alabama in the house. But the Crimson Tide turned its best performance of the season and pulled away at the end to get another big win in a season where Alabama is getting better each meet.

In front of a loud and raucous Auburn Arena crowd, the No. 5 Crimson Tide posted its highest team score of the season for the second meet in a row, taking down the No. 12 Tigers in the process.

“[Coach] Sarah [Patterson] told us before the meet started that it would probably come down to the last routine, so we expected it, going in,” senior Sarah DeMeo said. “We’re going to give it our all. That’s what we did. Each event, we built on it and that’s what helped us.”

(See also “The pressure is on: Crimson Tide gymnastics team sees record attendance numbers“)

Patterson didn’t hold back on Friday in regards to her lineup. She put DeMeo and fellow senior Kim Jacob and freshman Katie Bailey all on the all-around. DeMeo responded by winning the all-around with a career-high 39.5.

Alabama’s 197.5 tied its season-high from last week’s meet against Georgia.

“The performance was better,” Patterson said. “I thought we were better on bars, our routines were. I’m not talking scores, I’m talking performance. All the things that we worked on this past week in the gym, the ladies did it.”

The Crimson Tide faced some adversity right off the bat. Freshman Aja Sims couldn’t get up on one of her handstands on uneven bars, but the team finished strong behind her.

Sims bounced back with a 9.875 on floor and 9.925 on beam.

“When she made that mistake on bars I went over to her and I said, ‘they got your back,’” Patterson said. “‘They’re gonna do it and you don’t even think about it and move on to the next event. You can step up first on floor and get us started,’ and that’s what she did. I think they’re seeing how things transpire and how the teamwork is so important.”

Alabama also had the help of some of its own fans behind it. The 7,123 attendance was the second-best for a gymnastics meet in Auburn Arena’s history. Part of that was a small, yet vocal Alabama section that bussed down courtesy of the UA gymnastics booster club.

“I loved the energy. It’s so loud,” Sims said. “Even though we’re not at home, we still had a lot of good people from home that could cheer us on.”

(See also “Patterson applauds student turnout“)

The meet ended in traumatic fashion. On the last routine of the night, Auburn’s Bri Guy rolled her ankle taking off for a tumbling pass and hit her head as she came down. The arena went silent, and Guy stayed down for a few minutes before sitting up and being taken off on a stretcher, ending the meet.

It started with teams trading the smallest lead possible.

The Tigers took a .025 lead after the first rotation, with just sophomore Amanda Jetter cracking the 9.9 mark on uneven bars. On the next rotation, the Tigers’ first four bar routines set or tied career-highs for their gymnasts, but Alabama countered by tying its season-high score on vault to take the .025 lead back for itself.

Alabama extended its lead in the third rotation to give it some breathing room. Jacob led the way with a 9.95 and DeMeo was right behind her with a 9.925. Every gymnast scored at least a 9.8. The Crimson Tide closed with a season-high 49.325.

Alabama will head to Oklahoma City next week for a quad meet with Oklahoma, Michigan and West Virginia.

(See also “UA gymnastics releases 2014 schedule“)

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Alabama ties season-best score for 108th win against Auburn