Tide needs to ‘keep fire burning’

On the surface, it would appear that Alabama’s gymnastics meet with Kentucky this weekend would fall into the “trap game” category.

The Crimson Tide put together its best team score since 2004 last weekend and will host No. 3 Arkansas in the annual “Power of Pink” meet next week.

So, how does Alabama avoid a letdown in Lexington on Friday? Head coach Sarah Patterson is using a simple metaphor this week: fire.

“We were on fire at the Florida meet,” Patterson said. “Then, we kind of let the fire go out, and it was smoldering. And now, the key is to ramp it back up so that when we go into Kentucky, the fire comes back.”

The No. 2 Crimson Tide will go on the road this week for the third time this season to face the Kentucky Wildcats in a Southeastern Conference match up.

After Alabama’s huge win against the No. 4 Florida Gators, the team scaled practice back a little bit, only doing light exercises. But the Tide picked things back up again on Wednesday to get ready for its SEC road meet.

“You can’t keep a fire up here all the time. You’ll run out of fuel or logs to put on it,” Patterson said. “You have to light your fire, it has to come back, it has to smolder and then you have to ramp it back up at the right time.”

And Alabama isn’t worried about a letdown. The gymnasts know that there is always something to improve on, no matter how small.

“We focus on smaller improvements, like landings, handstands, just the details,” sophomore Sarah DeMeo said. “There’s always room to grow, no matter if it’s almost perfect or not.”

 

Tide hitting its stride at just the right time

 

It’s always difficult to repeat as national champions, but that’s exactly what Alabama gymnastics is trying to do this year.

“I know that this year, everyone’s all about the repeat. And I’m like, ‘You know what, we have to find our own team identity,’” Patterson said at the beginning of the year.

And through four meets, it appears that everything is clicking for the Tide this year and that the team has found its identity.

Patterson said she actually thought it would all come together for her team against Auburn, but when senior Geralen Stack-Eaton sustained a concussion in warm ups, it threw the team off its rhythm at the last minute.

But now, after four straight victories – which have included two perfect 10.0s – and posting the second highest score in the country against Florida, the Tide is rolling.

The key now, Patterson says, is sustaining that momentum and getting ready to go for another meet.

“What I want them to do is come in mentally focused today,” Patterson said. “You can’t stay at that level all the time, but what we talked about is, we had the fire going, it’s smoldered up until Wednesday or so, and then, as we go into Kentucky, we’ve got to ignite it again.”