DULUTH, Ga. The Alabama gymnastics team won its second NCAA Championship in a row and sixth overall Saturday night in a meet that came down to the final competitor for both the Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators. UA senior Ashley Priess, who was sitting in the stands during last year’s Super Six Team Finals after surgery on both ankles, clinched the win with a 9.95 on the balance beam, pushing the Tide past Florida 197.85-197.775.
Just as it did a year ago in Cleveland, Ohio, the meet came down to last rotation and the last gymnasts of the two teams on the floor exercise and balance beam. Last year Alabama closed out UCLA on the floor exercise, winning with an overall score of 197.650. This year Alabama was on the balance beam with No. 1 seed Florida on the floor exercise.
Florida finished first, just .025 ahead of UCLA’s 197.750, and waiting to see what Priess would score to know if it would take home its first title. A 9.875 by Priess would tie the Gators, anything better by the Wheaton, Ill., native would win. Priess left no doubt, tying her career-best of 9.95.
Priess and fellow senior Geralen Stack-Eaton led the Tide with all-around scores of 39.575 and 39.700 respectively. It was a career-high for Stack-Eaton and just off Priess’ best mark.
In addition to the 2012 and 2011 national championships, Alabama has won NCAA Gymnastics titles in 2002, 1996, 1991 and 1988.
SEC National Championship Notes
* - This is the fourth national championship for the SEC this season – Football (Alabama), Men’s Basketball (Kentucky), Men’s Indoor Track & Field (Florida) and Gymnastics.
* - It is 191st national championship in SEC history – 113 men’s and 78 women’s.
* - Since 2006, the SEC has had a national champion in 10 of its 20 sponsored sports – football, men’s basketball, baseball, men’s indoor track and field, women’s swimming and diving, gymnastics, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, men’s swimming and diving and women’s basketball.
* - Eight of the 12 SEC schools have won national championships in the 20 SEC-sponsored sports since Fall 2006. They include: Alabama (football, gymnastics), Auburn (football, men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving), Florida (men’s indoor track, women’s tennis, women’s swimming and diving, football, men’s basketball), Georgia (gymnastics, men’s tennis), Kentucky (men’s basketball), LSU (baseball, football, women’s outdoor track and field), South Carolina (baseball), Tennessee (women’s basketball, women’s indoor track and field).
* - The SEC has won 30 national championships during the last six academic years, an average of five per year.
* - Over the last 25 years, the SEC has collected 158 national championships in its 20-sponsored sports, an average of more than six per year.
* - The SEC has collected 16 NCAA titles in gymnastics over the last 25 years, more than any other conference.
* - The SEC has accumulated the most (or tied) national championships in eight of its 20-sponsored sports during the last 25 years (gymnastics, football, baseball, men’s indoor track, men’s outdoor track, cross country, women’s indoor track, women’s outdoor track).
* - The SEC has won at least one national title in 17 of its 20 sponsored sports during the last 20 years (excludes volleyball, cross country and softball).