Tide looks to bounce back from first loss tonight

Tide+looks+to+bounce+back+from+first+loss+tonight

Roots Woodruff

Jason Galloway

It would have been easy to point the finger, or to not say anything at all, but the members of the No. 2 Alabama gymnastics team did neither.

After true freshman Ashley Sledge posted an 8.875 on Alabama’s second routine of last weekend’s meet against LSU, the typically consistent Kayla Hoffman scored an 8.675, forcing the Tide to count Sledge’s score and try to fight back from a huge deficit.

The result was a 196.475-196.05 loss, the Crimson Tide’s first of the season, and a drop from the nation’s No. 1 ranking.

“As disappointed as Kayla and Ashley were, nobody took blame in pointing the finger at two people,” said head coach Sarah Patterson. “Even on the bus ride home, people said, ‘Well, I could have done a better job on my dismount. That’s one-tenth. I could have stuck my vault landing. That’s another tenth.’ They came up with the three-tenths that they needed to win outside of the disappointments of the freak falls that we had.”

Alabama will now try to use that team attitude to bounce back against No. 6 Florida in Coleman Coliseum tonight, a team that Patterson said could be the most talented in the Southeastern Conference.

“I have felt all along, as far as a talent standpoint, that possibly Florida is the most talented team in the conference,” Patterson said. “I just know from the depth that they have and the personnel that they brought in.”

The talent Patterson is talking about is the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, according to CollegeGymFans.com. Florida’s freshman class has taken as many as 13 of its 24 routines this year and is home to the Gators only two all-arounders, Ashanee Dickerson and Marissa King. Dickerson is ranked 13th in the country in the all-around.

“They’re always contenders at SEC Championships and nationals,” said senior Kassi Price, who is from Plantation, Fla. “They’re just a great team. Going against any SEC team will be pretty spectacular, but this week we’re really excited for it because we really do know the potential that Florida has.”

Two of Alabama’s three meets before last week’s meet against No. 12 LSU were against top-10 teams, and neither of them came close to upending the Tide. Now, with a mark in the loss column, another top-10 opponent visits Coleman Coliseum.

“I think [the loss] will make us push harder to get even better,” Price said. “We didn’t like losing, I don’t think any team does, but so far in the gym, Monday we came in and we were better than ever. We’re really driven to do very well.”

Patterson said she could tell on the very next event that the mishaps on bars against LSU were not something her team would cling to.

“We liked how they responded,” she said. “The remaining three events, I really liked how their team chemistry was despite the disappointments, and they worked hard this week, so I’m just hoping that this weekend will be a step forward for them.”

Tonight’s meet against Florida will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.