Stack-Eaton leads Tide to Pink Meet victory with career night

Jason Galloway

As head coach Sarah Patterson puts it, Geralen Stack-Eaton has a tendency to be her own worst enemy. In Friday night’s Pink Meet against Kentucky, however, even Stack-Eaton couldn’t find any criticism against herself.

On a night when Alabama used a season-high 197.275 to beat the Wildcats by 4.275 points, Stack-Eaton scored career-highs on three individual events on her way to a career-high 39.675 in the all around. The last time an Alabama gymnast scored higher in the all around was when Morgan Dennis scored a 39.725 in 2009.

“I have incredibly high standards for myself, to the point where I beat myself up to much to where it starts to destroy me,” Stack-Eaton said. “Now I’m learning to not listen to the voices and just know what I’m capable of.”

With 18 breast cancer survivors and more than 60 gymnastics alumni in attendance, Stack-Eaton posted career-highs of 9.925 on bars, 9.925 on beam and 9.95 on the floor exercise.

“The whole night was just a great cause, and I was building off that,” she said. “To do it for those women who have survived breast cancer is just a great motivation, and I just kept moving forward, and each event just kept growing on one another.”

But Stack-Eaton wasn’t the only Alabama gymnast to have a career night on Friday. Other career-highs included freshman Sarah DeMeo’s 9.85 on bars, senior Kayla Hoffman’s 9.925 on beam, sophomore Ashley Sledge’s 9.9 on floor and freshman Diandra Milliner’s 9.925 on floor. Milliner scored an impressive 39.45 in her first career all-around performance.

“Geralen always has the capability of scoring those numbers,” head coach Sarah Patterson said.  “What I like about what happened tonight was for [Milliner] to step in [on the all around]. We got Sarah DeMeo back out there, changed her beam routine around a little bit and her scoring potential went up. Kayla did a great job on balance beam. Over her four year career, that’s the best balance beam routine she has ever done.”

After posting solid scores of 49.275 and 49.125 on vault and bars, respectively, the Tide scored team season-highs on beam (49.425) and floor exercise (49.45) to end the meet strong. Alabama has now scored higher than a 197 in two consecutive meets after putting up a disappointing 195.45 against No. 1 Florida two weeks ago.

“I think it’s a great step forward from where we were two weeks ago,” Patterson said. “Now the key is, we’ve done this at home. We’ve had record-setting crowds – now we have to go to Georgia, and we have to start off with intensity. I just think this gives us confidence going into that meet.”

Georgia is currently No. 5 in the country, one spot ahead of the Tide, and has been Alabama’s main competition not only in the Southeastern Conference, but in the nation the past five-plus years. Although a win in Athens, Ga., next week would give the Tide even more confidence, Patterson said the main goal at this point in the year is to get ready for the postseason.

“We’re looking towards the end,” she said. “You want to win, but you have to keep the end in sight.”