Tide defeat Tar Heels on senior night

It was senior night on Friday in Coleman Coliseum and the Alabama Crimson Tide’s two seniors didn’t disappoint fans.

Geralen Stack-Eaton and Ashley Priess, competing for the last time in Tuscaloosa, led the No. 4 Crimson Tide to a convincing 197.625-194.075 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tide’s score of 197.625 was its third-highest team score of the season.

The victory gave Alabama an 11-1 regular season record on the season going into the SEC championships.

“I wanted tonight just to be a celebration,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “If you made a little mistake or a wobble, I wanted it to be a celebration. Whatever they do, we still have some major meets down the road, so tonight I thought we just needed to relax and celebrate.”

Priess won the all-around with a career-high score of 39.625 and Stack-Eaton finished second, posting a 39.45.

“Tonight was an amazing night. I’m so thankful to be a part of this incredible team and the ‘Bama family,” Priess said. “To have all our teammates and family and supporters and alumni and coaches and everyone that was behind us tonight, it was just an incredible feeling tonight.”

The result was never in question, but Alabama put any doubt of a victory to rest on the balance beam. Four Alabama gymnasts scored at least a 9.9 as the Tide posted a 49.525, the fourth-highest beam score in Alabama’s storied history.

“We paid attention to the little details [on the balance beam] to standout from the other teams going into this post season,” sophomore Sarah DeMeo said. “We have the talent to be perfect – all six. We have total confidence now. This night really helped push us.”

DeMeo matched a career-high on the balance beam, posting a score of 9.95. Priess added a 9.925 while Stack-Eaton and freshman Kayla Williams scored a pair of 9.9s for the Tide.

“I just think we haven’t worked on all cylinders [on beam], but tonight they did a great job,” Patterson said. “Our team has this belief that whenever [Priess] gets up there, whatever she does, she’s going to score a 9.9. I feel like we have some other beam workers like that and we just weren’t performing to our ability.”

The Tide started the meet strong once again on the vault – easily its best event of the four. Sophomore Diandra Milliner led the way, posting a score of 9.95 to finish the rotation. Priess scored a 9.925 and freshman Kayla Williams and junior Ashley Sledge added a pair of 9.875s.

Priess continued her strong performance on the uneven bars, leading Alabama to a score of 49.275 – its fourth-highest uneven bars score of the season. Priess and Sledge both scored a 9.9, while sophomore Sarah DeMeo added a 9.875.

Alabama closed out the night with a team score of 49.35 on the floor exercise. Stack-Eaton finished the night with a 9.925, while junior Marissa Gutierrez scored a 9.9.