Gymnastics travels to Oklahoma for road test

Geralen Stack-Eaton scored a 9.950 on the floor Friday night at the Pink Meet against Arkansas. / CW | Katie Bennett

Talk about a tough schedule. Fresh off of a convincing road win at LSU, the No. 5 Alabama gymnastics team will travel to Norman, Oklahoma this weekend to take on the No. 2 Sooners.

Of the eight teams the Tide has faced so far this season, six are ranked in the top-15 or higher nationally. The other two were part of a quad meet with Penn State that Alabama won by a margin of just .075.

“It is kind of stressful, but we know that we’re one of the top teams also,” sophomore Diandra Milliner said. “It just gets us pumped. It gives us a lot of confidence knowing that we’ve beaten all these teams.”

The Sooners boast a 6-2-0 record on the season. Their only losses came against No. 9 Oregon State and No. 6 Nebraska. Oklahoma posted scores of 195.975 and 196.475 in the losses.

“Every team will have their night,” Milliner said. “We just try to keep up our energy. What really matters is the score, not whether we win or lose.”

The Tide finished up its conference schedule on Friday and will have three meets against top non-conference teams to end the season. Head coach Sarah Patterson said the grueling slate will better prepare her team for the Regional and National Championships, where Alabama will be competing against the top teams in the country.

“The whole goal of our schedule is so that we’re not looking over our shoulders in any competition at the end of the season,” Patterson said. “We’re different from football where if you have a loss you don’t necessarily advance to the championship program.

“For us, it’s about putting us in front of the best competition, seeing the best teams, and then, your ladies have a sense of confidence when they go to nationals.”

The Tide posted its highest road score of the season on Friday, defeating the LSU Tigers 197.025-196.575. The win clinched Alabama’s first undefeated season in the Southeastern Conference since 1991.

At LSU, the Tide drew motivation from the hostile crowd. But in Norman, it will be all about staying focused on the road.

“One of the sayings that we have is, you’re trying to make sure it’s the ‘us’ in focus,” Patterson said. “Make sure that we’re not watching what they’re doing, we’re worried about what we’re doing.”

Alabama will also make sure it is at its best, considering that Oklahoma is one of the top teams in the country and finished third to the Tide at the 2011 NCAA Championships.

“Just knowing that Oklahoma is ranked a little higher than us right now, it’s another good motivation to want to do our best,” senior Geralen Stack-Eaton said. “We know that they’re a great team, so we just want to go out there and show them how great we are.”