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    SEC Gymnastics Today: February 17

    No. 2 Florida Gymnastics Take Win at No. 17 Auburn with Nation’s Sixth Highest Score

    AUBURN, Ala. –The No. 2 Florida gymnastics team (8-1, 4-1 SEC) used the nation’s sixth-highest score of the season to finish its Southeastern Conference road schedule with a win at No. 17 Auburn (3-9, 0-5 SEC) Friday in front of an Auburn Arena crowd of 4,626. The Gators posted a 197.50 while the Tigers turned in a season-best 196.875.

    There were some changes in the lineup Friday as the Gator coaching staff wanted to give some gymnasts a break and also wanted to see how other routines would score. Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn liked what she saw Friday.

    “I was very pleased with the team’s performance tonight. It was wonderful to see everyone compete so aggressively and confidently especially knowing that we changed up the lineups quite a bit, especially on floor. They all responded really well,” Faehn said. “They just did a great job overall.

    Only one Gator competed as an all-arounder Friday and that gymnast picked up the win. Florida sophomore All-American Alaina Johnson picked up her first all-around title of 2012 and the fourth of her career with a Gator season-high total of 39.625.

    The Gators opened Friday’s meet with a strong set on the uneven bars. Florida was six-for-six for stuck landings (seven-for-seven counting the exhibition performer) as the Gators tallied a 49.40 for their third-highest bars total of the season. Florida’s last half of the lineup all turned in marks of 9.90 or better. Sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto picked up a share of her fourth consecutive bar win with her mark of 9.925. Auburn’s llyson Sandusky and Kylie Shields also shared the bar title at 9.925.Marissa King and Alaina Johnson also posted 9.90s.

    On vault, the Gators turned in a season-best 49.575, which also stands as the second-highest vault total in school history. Four Gators posted marks of 9.90 or better, led by collegiate-best mark of 9.95 from UF’s final two vaulters Johnson and Kytra Hunter. The vault win is the second consecutive for Johnson and the second of the season for Hunter. Junior Ashanée Dickerson took third with her season-best 9.925 while Nicole Ellis also turned in a season-best of 9.90.

    Florida’s floor lineup had some new faces as the Gator coaches decided to hold out a pair of floor All-Americans - Dickerson and King - as well as Hunter (currently ranked No. 3 nationally on the event) to give them a well-deserved break from the pounding of the event. The Gators turned in a 49.05 and were led by Johnson’s 9.875 which tied for second overall with AU’s Toi Garcia. Senior Amy Ferguson opened up the floor set with a 9.85. The evening’s floor title was claimed by AU’s Brianna Guy at 9.90.

    Balance beam was the Gators’ finishing event as the team matched their season-best total of 49.475, which ties for the eighth-best in school history. King anchored the set by matching her collegiate-best of 9.95 for the second time this season. The mark gave King her fourth beam win of 2012 and she shared the title with AU’s Guy. Johnson’s set her collegiate beam best of 9.90 Friday to take third.

    Alabama Gymnastics Defeats Arkansas, 197.650-196.125

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –  The No. 6 Alabama gymnastics team (8-0 overall, 5-0 SEC) beat No. 5 Arkansas 197.650-196.125 in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,075 during the Crimson Tide’s eighth annual Power of Pink meet. 

    Friday marked the ninth time Alabama has sold out Coleman Coliseum and the eighth time in the past seven years. With the win, Alabama is now a perfect 17-0 in its pink leotards. In the midst of all things pink, for the third year in a row, prior to the meet, each Alabama gymnasts was introduced in tandem with a breast cancer survivor.

    “Seeing all of the pink just kind of set the stage for tonight,” senior Geralen Stack-Eaton said. “As we walked out with our survivors on our arm, it was just so inspiring to see them and what they’ve endured and how much they’ve fought through. That to me, I just think it set the bar for tonight.”

    Stack-Eaton won the all-around and vault, while she and senior Ashley Priess tied for top honors on the uneven bars and floor exercise.  Priess also won the balance beam.

    In a meet where Alabama led from start to finish, there was plenty of excitement on the night, especially during the last rotation where the Tide scored a season-best 49.600 as a team, led by four scores of 9.9 or better, including matching 9.95s from Stack-Eaton and Priess in UA’s last two routines.

    Freshman Lora Leigh Frost, from Decatur, Ala., brought the capacity crowd to its feet with a career-best 9.9 on the floor exercise. Sophomore Diandra Milliner and junior Marissa Gutierrez kept the electricity going, posting scores of 9.925 and 9.875 respectively, before the senior duo of Stack-Eaton and Priess closed out the night and the Razorbacks.

    Junior Ashley Sledge, who has gone in the all-around in each of the first five meets this season, was working through a sore back, so Patterson elected to rest her and move Frost into the lineup.

    “Ashley said she wasn’t 100 percent, but that she could go, but this is where we have to make smart decisions,” Patterson said. “This is where you’ve got to trust that teamwork. I told Lora Leigh, ‘This is your opportunity, go out there and grab it.’ And she did.”

    Alabama started things off with a 49.525 on the vault led by Stack-Eaton’s 9.95 and followed that up with a season-best 49.300 on the uneven bars led by matching 9.9s from Stack-Eaton and Priess. On the balance beam, Priess led the Tide to a 49.225 team score with a 9.925.

    “I think it was really great the way that we had a lot of different people step up,” Priess said. “I think we’re proving over and over again that we have a lot of depth this year. It’s exciting that we’re a really flexible team. If one person goes out for some reason that we really can’t control, another person steps up like Lora Leigh did on floor. She just did an amazing job. Overall, it just builds our confidence.”

    Friday was also alumni night for the gymnastics team as more than forty members of the Tide family returned with their families to celebrate the championship legacy they helped create.

    “I told our ladies that the men and women who were introduced before the meet tonight laid the foundation for the wonderful tradition of excellence we have here with Alabama gymnastics,” Patterson said.

    Among the alumni on hand Friday night were members of the 2002 NCAA Championship team, which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Alabama’s fourth national title this season.

    The Tide is on the road for the next two weeks, first at LSU on Feb. 24 and then at Oklahoma on March 2.

    LSU Wins Tri-Meet at Washington with 196.450

    SEATTLE – The 13th-ranked LSU gymnastics team earned the second-highest score of the season with a 196.450 to capture the tri-meet against No. 23 Washington and Seattle Pacific Friday night in Alaska Airlines Arena.

    Washington (4-6) finished second with a 194.975, and Seattle Pacific (4-7) was third at 190.800.

    Freshman Rheagan Courville won her second all-around title of the year with a season-high 39.500 total, while fellow freshman Jessie Jordan finished second in the all-around with a season-best 39.400.

    LSU (4-7) opened on bars with a 48.825, but the Tigers rallied to earn a 49.100 on beam and a season-high 49.150 on floor. LSU ended the meet with a 49.375 on vault, the second-best vault total of the season.

    “I’m so proud of the fight in our team tonight,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “We did not get off to the start we wanted on bars, but we responded on the other events with solid performances. Now, we want the fans to come out next week and enjoy some high quality gymnastics because we know they can make a big impact in our competition.”

    The Tigers received several season-high performances in the meet. Randi Lau  posted a season-best 9.90 on vault and 9.825 on beam. Jordan earned a new mark on vault at 9.90, and she tied her best on beam (9.875) and floor (9.85). Maliah Mathis posted a season-high 9.875 on vault, and Courville tied her high mark on floor at 9.90.

    Courville increased her individual title total to a team-leading 12 after winning the floor and all-around titles and tying for the vault crown.

    Lau tallied her first career individual title with a 9.90 on vault. Jordan tied for the vault title as well, and she tied for the beam title with her fourth 9.875 performance of the season, giving her three titles this season.

    LSU has recorded three straight 196 scores for the first time since the 2010 season, and the Tigers improved to 8-4 all-time against Washington, including a 2-0 mark in Seattle, and 1-0 against Seattle Pacific.

    The road win is the first for LSU since a 196.425-186.700 victory at Centenary on March 19, 2010.

    LSU returns home to face defending national champion Alabama on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. CT in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The sixth-ranked Crimson Tide defeated No. 5 Arkansas 197.650-196.125 in Tuscaloosa Friday.