The No. 4-ranked Alabama gymnastics team tied with No. 19 Arkansas with both teams posting scores of 197.100 Friday night. It was the Crimson Tide’s highest road score of the season and the second highest score of the season.
“I’m so pleased with how our ladies stepped up tonight,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “It was our second highest score of the season and our second 197 in a row. I definitely think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Despite the 197-plus score, the Tide experienced some adversity at the end of its floor exercise rotation when senior Marissa Gutierrez had an awkward landing on her first tumbling pass and had to be carried off the floor.
“We’ll have our doctors evaluate Marissa’s injury when we get home,” Patterson said. “We certainly appreciate Arkansas having a physician here. It was a bad landing and her foot was a little turned. We held Diandra [Milliner] out of the floor lineup because of a strained muscle in her hip. At the end of the day, I control the things that I can control. I never would have guessed that Marissa would have had a landing like that.”
Her injury came on the heels of another 9.95 by the Houston, Texas native on the vault.
“This is definitely an opportunity for some of our young people to step forward and step up,” Patterson said.
Alabama got things started with a 49.175 on the uneven bars, led by junior Sarah DeMeo’s 9.9, which ties her career-best mark. Gutierrez scored her second 9.95 vault of the season, tying her career best and pacing Alabama to a 49.425.
“We scored well on vault, but we still have a lot of things we can improve on,” Patterson said.
Alabama scored a 49.200 on the floor exercise, led by junior Kim Jacob’s 9.9. It was her sixth consecutive 9.9 or better score on the floor exercise this season.
Alabama came fighting back after Gutierrez’s injury, posting a 49.300 on the balance beam paced by 9.9s from junior Diandra Milliner, DeMeo and senior Ashley Priess.
“We had to go to beam right after Marissa got hurt and I told our ladies, ‘We’re going to do this for Marissa,’” Patterson said. “I’m proud of how we responded.”
Alabama returns home to take on No. 5 UCLA on Friday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. The Tide and Bruins last faced off in the NCAA Championship Super Six Team Finals when Alabama took first and UCLA was third by a 10th of a point.
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