The No. 4 Alabama gymnastics team went in to Friday night's meet at Coleman Coliseum with 2 goals in mind. Goal number one was to raise funds for the continued tornado relief efforts taking place in Tuscaloosa. Goal number two was to properly welcome the No. 14 Missouri Tigers to the world of SEC gymnastics. Coach Sarah Patterson walked away Friday night knowing that they had accomplished both of those goals.
"To me, tonight was a chance to welcome Missouri to the SEC, celebrate the tornado relief efforts and tie all that together with a great competition," Patterson said. "This meet has been circled on my calendar for a long time. We wanted to do our best to welcome Missouri into the Southeastern Conference. I don't think that there was any coach that was more excited about having another quality gymnastics team in our conference than I was."
Led by senior Geralen Stack-Eaton's third all-around victory of the season, the Crimson Tide was able to defeat the Tigers by a sizeable score of 197.175-195.375. The win improved the Tide's season record to 10-1 overall. The meet took place in front of a rousing hometown crowd of 12,936 fans. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, who were there to take part in a ceremony honoring the victims of the deadly tornadoes that have taken place recently in both Alabama and Missouri.
Despite a fall early in Alabama's balance beam rotation, Stack-Eaton and the Tide kept their composure and pushed through for the victory.
"I really wasn't worried." Stack-Eaton said of the fall. "I was confident the rest of us would hit our routines because we practice this every day in practice. Tonight was good experience for the postseason. If we were to get into that situation again, we know how to come back and make the next five routines."
Up next for the Tide is a regular season-ending meet Friday night at 7:30 pm CT in Coleman against the North Carolina Tar Heels.