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    SEC Gymnastics Central - Friday Night

    Alabama Beats No. 6 UCLA, 197.075-196.375

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In a battle of NCAA Champions, the Alabama gymnastics team came out on top against the UCLA Bruins Friday night, 197.075-196.375 in front of 11,775 fans in Coleman Coliseum.

    “This was a big competition for us for a lot of different reasons,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I felt like our team needed to cross over that 197-threshold and now this is our third meet in a row that we’ve done that.”

    Junior Kim Jacob won her fifth all-around title of the season, tying her career-high of 39.425. It was Alabama’s first non-conference meet of the season and eighth meet of the season. It was UA’s third consecutive 197-plus score.

    “We weren’t perfect today, but I can see that there are a lot of improvements,” Patterson said. “We had some people step in. Ashley Sledge has a sore foot and if this was the national championship, I probably would have let her go on vault and floor. But based on the fact that we need her in the end, I thought it was an opportunity to get some other people out there and that being said, I think some of them did a great job.”

    Sophomore Kaitlyn Clark led the Crimson Tide on the vault with a 9.9, which ties her season and career-best score. Freshman Lauren Beers scored a 9.85 while junior Diandra Milliner chipped in a 9.875 on the vault.

    Senior Ashley Sledge opened for the Tide uneven bars rotation with a 9.85, pacing Alabama to a 49.0 team score. Senior Ashley Priess added a 9.825 in the anchor spot while Jacob and senior Becca Alexin posted matching 9.8s.

    On the balance beam, Jacob tied her season-high of 9.9 while Priess scored a season-best 9.925 to push the Tide to a 49.350. Junior Sarah DeMeo rebounded from a falls during uneven bars routine to score a 9.85 on the beam, a score Milliner matched as the Tide’s leadoff.

    “That was awesome for Sarah DeMeo,” Jacob said. “She’s a competitor and she’s experienced, so she knows exactly how to come back and she definitely stepped it up. But we knew she would do that because she’s been here three years and every time she puts on a great routine.”

    The Tide closed strong with a 49.450 on the floor exercise paced by career-best 9.95s from Jacob and Milliner. DeMeo and Priess both chipped in 9.875s on the floor.

    “I think tonight was a great meet for us and we’ve been talking each week about having a springboard performance and using each meet to launch us to the next meet,” Priess said. I think we did a really great job with that tonight. I think we just need to continue to progress and work on different areas to be excellent and it’s going to pay off in the end.”
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    Florida Gymnastics Use Nation’s Top Total to Take Senior Night Win over No. 14 Minnesota

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The nation’s leading team total gave the No. 2 Florida gymnastics team (8-1, 6-1 SEC) the win over No. 14 Minnesota (12-3, 4-1 Big 10) Friday night in front of a Stephen C. O’Connell Center crowd of 3,843. Florida’s total of 198.425 set the school record and tops the nation’s previous 2013 high of 198.375 set by No. 1 Oklahoma last Friday. The Golden Gophers posted a season-best 197.175.

    The Florida-Minnesota meet airs tape-delayed on SUN Sports on March 10 at 9 a.m.

    Near perfection came for Florida on every event. A Gator earned the nearly-perfect mark of 9.975 on each of the four events.

    The first Gator to earn a 9.975 was sophomore All-American Kytra Hunter on vault. The 2012 NCAA vault champion, Friday’s mark was Hunter’s fifth 9.975 on the event in the last 11 team competitions. The win was her fourth this season on the event.

    It was junior All-American Mackenzie Caquatto’s turn to earn the mark on the Gators’ next rotation, the uneven bars. Mackenzie posted a 10.0 on the event in January to equal the school record. She is the eighth Gator to earn a 9.975 on the uneven bars.

    The next Gator to earn the mark was freshman Bridget Sloan, upping her collegiate balance beam best from a 9.925 to 9.975. Her performance led a stellar beam set by the Gators, as Mackenzie Caquatto earned a 9.95 and Hunter equaled her collegiate-best of 9.925 as the team turned in a school-record and matched the nation’s top beam total of 49.60.

    Florida wasn’t done with its assault on its record book, as the Gators tallied a school-record and the nation’s top floor exercise total of 49.70. Senior All-American Marissa King became the fourth different Gator to earn a 9.975 Friday to equal her collegiate-best mark on the event.

    A pair of 9.95s from Hunter and senior All-American Ashanée Dickerson, as well as pair of collegiate-bests equaled by Sloan (9.925) and senior Randy Stageberg (9.90) boosted the score to the team’s all-time floor high.

    It was Senior Night Friday and the three Gator seniors who made up half of Florida’s floor lineup performed well on this emotional evening. King’s ability to perform in front of her family who made the more the 4,300 mile journey from Cambridge, England, to celebrate Senior Night with her made the performance particularly memorable.

    “I was very happy. I love doing that routine. I had a lot of fun,” King said. “It was funny because my family was waiting down on the floor area and my brother was like ‘Go ‘Rissa go!’ It was so nice having them there so close, to be there on the floor and feel the atmosphere and everything and how it is for when we compete. That was really nice - it really touched at my emotions too.”

    Florida’s three all-around competitors turned in totals which rank among the nation’s best of 2013, with the top two turning in the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 totals of the season. Hunter, the defending NCAA all-around champion, posted the nation’s leading total of 39.80 – a tally which equals the Gator record set by 11-time and Gator Athletic Hall of Fame member Kristen Guise in 1996. Sloan was runner-up with her 39.75 which stands second among the nation’s all-arounders. Dickerson took third at 39.55.

    Florida was a bit stung in last Friday’s meet, earning the win versus Kentucky but was forced to count a fall on beam. This past week’s training focused on the coaching staff’s challenge to sharpen the execution level, a task the Gators clearly rose to.

    “It was really incredible. As a coaching staff, we really challenged our team after our last home meet. That was not what they were capable of and this is now go time. The resting was over and now they needed to dig deep to do a gut check and find the passion and to be there for one another,” UF head coach Rhonda Faehn said. “That was what I saw tonight on every event, the energy and their excitement. The ones weren’t competing were so loud and that was really nice to see.”

    Friday’s team score is in rare air, but there is still work to do, Faehn said.

    “We’re still not there. It was great tonight. We got a lot of landings, we hit, we went 24 for 24, but we can still be sharper, we can get more landings and we can still be crisper,” Faehn said. “That’s where the next four weeks comes in, is the fine-tuning.”

    Faehn rarely gets to watch much of the competition’s routines, but tonight she was able to catch several of the Minnesota routines and was impressed with what she saw.

    “The quality of gymnastics and the level of execution of the Minnesota routines was impressive. They are definitely a team in strong contention for a spot in the NCAA Championships’ 12-team field,” Faehn said. “They showed great quality gymnastics.”
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    Auburn Drops Maryland, 196.825-195.300

    AUBURN –  11th-ranked Auburn gymnastics posted its sixth-consecutive score of 196.000 or better behind its single event season high score of 39.525 in floor exercise in a 196.825 – 195.300 win over No. 23 Maryland on Friday in Auburn Arena.

    The total of 39.525 on floor is the second-highest total in program history behind only a 49.600 against Florida in 2004.

    “I like the fact that we are fighters,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. “We went through some adversity early on and we were able to pull it together. I really like the fact that they finally woke up and did what they are capable of on the last two events. We got a good score out of the deal on a pretty mediocre night. This is what I’ve been telling the team all year, on a medium night, this is what you are capable of. We just have to start earlier next time.”

    Auburn led off on vault and posted a solid 49.100 behind a 9.900 from Bri Guy and a season-high 9.875 from Toi Garcia. Caitlin Atkinson added a 9.850 with her fifth-consecutive vault score of 9.850 or better.

    The Tigers moved to uneven bars in the second rotation and posted a 48.950. Despite struggling on its first two routines, Auburn rallied and got strong performances from Abbey Habicht (9.800), Megan Walker (9.925, career high) and Petrina Yokay 9.875).

    At the midway point of the meet, Auburn had score just 98.050 and needed a spark.

    “The LSU meet was such a high for the team and there was a natural letdown,” Graba said. “We didn’t see it a whole lot in practice, but I was a little worried that they would come out a little flat. The adversity on bars was tough, but they rose to the challenge and that was the real wake up. They were doing an all right job, but they took care of business after bars.”

    In the third rotation that energy arrived and Auburn stretched its lead over the Terrapins substantially as it posted its sixth-consecutive beam score of 49.000 or higher this season with a 49.250. It also marked the Tigers’ second-highest beam total of the season.

    Walker and Atkinson led Auburn with scores of 9.900. It was a career high mark for Atkinson, who has now earned a 9.900 or better on all four events in her freshman season. Yokay and Caryn Kadous each added scores of 9.825.

    With her performances on bars and beam, Walker recorded scores of 9.9 or higher in both events for the first time in her two-year career.

    “I’m just glad that she is finally starting to get rewarded for what I think is some of the best gymnastics in the country,” Graba said. “She’s such a phenomenal athlete on those two events and I’m just so proud of her. She kept her head down and has really worked for the last year-and-a-half and now it’s paying off.”

    The Tigers finished with their strongest single event of the season, posting a 49.525 on floor behind a career-high 9.950 from Atkinson and a 9.925 from Guy. The rotation also included career highs for Brittany Webster (9.900), Yokay (9.875) and Kadous (9.850).

    Atkinson won her fourth all-around title of the season, posting a 39.475, while Yokay tied her all-around career high and finished second with a 39.325. Atkinson has now won four all-around titles in 2013.
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    LSU GYMNASTICS KNOCKS OFF NO. 7 GEORGIA, 197.050-196.825

    BATON ROUGE – The fifth-ranked LSU gymnastics team improved to 4-0 at home in front of 5,717 fans, the third-largest crowd in school history, when the Tigers defeated No. 7 Georgia 197.050-196.825 Friday night inside the Maravich Center.

    It marked the second time this season LSU beat Georgia after the Tigers knocked off the Gym Dogs 197.100-196.775 at the Metroplex Challenge on Jan. 26.

    LSU (9-3, 5-2 SEC) posted a 49.500 on vault, 49.300 on bars, 48.875 on beam and 49.375 on floor to finish with a 197.050 and earn the first 197 at home since the 2010 season.

    Georgia fell to 6-6-1 overall and 4-2-1 against SEC competition. The Gym Dogs scored a 49.200 on vault, 49.250 on bars, 49.225 on beam and 49.150 on floor to tally the 196.825.

    Rheagan Courville won her sixth all-around title of the season with a 39.450, and she captured her second vault title with a 9.925.

    Randii Wyrick earned the first individual title of her young career as she and Sarie Morrison tied for the bars title with a 9.925. The score marked a career high for Wyrick, and it was Morrison’s team-leading eighth bars crown of the season.

    Lloimincia Hall claimed her sixth floor title of the year with a 9.95 in the final performance of the meet to cement LSU’s victory over Georgia.

    “We had a solid performance tonight in front of a fabulous crowd,” LSU head coach D-D Breaux said. “We let nerves get to us again when we got to beam, and we have to correct it going forward. It was a great win in a fantastic atmosphere.”

    The second-ranked vault squad in the country, LSU got off to a roaring start in the event with a 49.500 that tied the second-highest vault score for the Tigers this season. Kaleigh Dickson, Britney Taylor and Jessie Jordan all posted a 9.90 to open the event, and the Tigers also counted a 9.875 from Randi Lau and a 9.925 from Courville in the anchor spot. After the first rotation LSU led Georgia 49.500-49.250.

    LSU increased its lead over Georgia to 98.800-98.450 in the second rotation when the Tigers tallied a 49.300 on bars and the Gym Dogs finished with a 49.200 on vault. Jordan led off on bars with a 9.125, and Britney Ranzy followed with a 9.75. Dickson and Courville both scored a 9.85, and Wyrick and Morrison each posted a 9.925 to finish the rotation with a bang.

    LSU held the lead after the third rotation 147.675-147.600 when Georgia made up ground on floor. The Tigers finished with a 48.875 on beam, led by a 9.875 from Jordan and a 9.85 by Courville. Dickson added a 9.775 in the leadoff spot, and LSU counted a 9.725 from Taylor and a 9.65 from Hall.

    LSU outscored Georgia in the final rotation 49.375-49.225 to clinch the win. Jordan led off floor with a 9.80, and Dickson recorded a 9.85. Jessica Savona and Maliah Mathis registered back-to-back 9.875’s. Courville scored a 9.85, and Hall anchored floor with her fourth 9.95 of the season.

    The last time LSU earned a 197 or higher at home was March 12, 2010 when the Tigers defeated Iowa 197.150-195.400.

    LSU’s 49.500 on vault tied the seventh-best total in the event in school history, equaling the score at the Metroplex Challenge this season.
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    Razorbacks win quad meet on senior night

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Seniors Kelci Lewis, Amy Borsellino and Jordan Salsberg competed in Barnhill Arena for the last time in their careers as the No. 25 University of Arkansas gymnastics team (4-5-1, 1-4-1 SEC) scored a 196.650, picking up its first quad-meet win of the season against the University of Missouri Tigers (3-9, 0-7 SEC), 194.300; Centenary, 190.525 and Lindenwood, 191.125.

    Junior Katherine Grable led the vault and beam rotations with a 9.90 and 9.875, respectively, to take the event titles as well. Grable would also lead the floor rotation to tie the fifth-best score in program history of 49.400 with a 9.95. Junior Shelby Salmon claimed her second bars title of the season with a 9.90 for the event.

    “It was important for us to come back and have another strong competition after last weekend,” co-head coach René Lyst said. “We were a little shaky on the beam tonight but we did not have to count any falls or mistakes, and were able to get a good home score that will count for us and help us climb in the rankings.”

    In rotation one, the Razorbacks vaulted to an early lead in the meet with a 49.225. Grable led the way for Arkansas with a 9.90 to collect the event title, followed by Lewis and freshman Heather Elswick with a 9.85 each. Junior Bailee Zumwalde added a 9.825 and Borsellino with a 9.80.

    Missouri would score a 48.875 on the bars, Centenary tallied a 47.200 on the beam and Lindenwood picked up a 48.050 on floor to trail the Razorbacks after the first rotation

    On the bars, The Razorbacks recorded a 49.150 led by the event champion in Salmon with a 9.90. Borsellino posted a 9.875 followed by fellow senior Salsberg with a 9.85 in their last bars routines in Barnhill Arena.

    Mizzou scored a 48.825 on the beam to give them a total of 97.700 halfway through the meet. Centenary added a 47.675 on the floor for a total of 94.875 followed by Lindenwood with a 47.850 on the vault for a 95.900 at the end of the second rotation.

    On the beam, The Razorbacks picked up a 48.875 led by Grable with a 9.875 and the event title. Freshman Keara Glover added a season-high score of a 9.85 as well as a pair of 9.725’s from Borsellino and freshman Sydnie Dillard.

    Mizzou scored a 47.750 on the floor in rotation three, followed by Centenary with a 48.025 on the vault and Lindenwood with a 47.075 on the bars. The Razorbacks would maintain the lead after the third rotation.

    On the floor, the Razorbacks would tie for the fifth-best score in program history with a 49.400 led by the event title holder with a 9.95 in Grable.

    Borsellino added a 9.90 followed by a trio of Razorbacks with a 9.85 in Lewis Elswick and Dillard, additionally Zumwalde scored a 9.825 on the event.

    “Floor is definitely our strength,” Lyst said. “Picking up a score like that at the end of the meet will definitely boost our confidence moving ahead into the next couple of competitions which is really important for our team right now. It was a great way to finish out the meet tonight in front of the crowd tonight especially for the seniors.”
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