Despite recording their highest road score of the season, the No. 5 Alabama Gymnastics squad lost a heartbreaker Friday night to the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners by a score of 197.300-197.150. The loss was the first one of the season for the Tide, who saw their record drop to 9-1 overall. The Tide has already closed out their Southeastern Conference season with a perfect 6-0 record. The Sooners saw their record improve to 16-2 overall. They are 2-0 in the Big XII. While coach Patterson acknowledged that her team might be disappointed, she was also quick to point out that Oklahoma is a good team and that this will give the Tide some things to work on.
"Oklahoma is the No. 2 in the country and they've been scoring this way for a reason," Patterson said. "I'm certainly all about winning, but sometimes when something like this happens to your team, and they're a little disappointed, I don't think that hurts us in the long run. I think we'll get back in the gym and it will really help us focus on the things that can make us better."
Senior Geralen Stack-Eaton led the Tide by winning the all-around with a 39.525. Herself and senior Ashley Priess had matching 9.95s to win the vault also for the Bama. If not for Priess' ankle locking up before the balance beam, which was the final event of the night, Alabama would have probably ended up winning the meet. Senior Ashley Sledge came off the bench and scored a 9.825, which was very impressive considering that she thought her night was done. Patterson viewed the experience as a positive for the Tide.
"We had a little bit of a glitch at the end where Ashley Priess' ankle locked up and I had to make a substitution right at the end," Patterson said. "To see Ashley Sledge come in and score 9.825 when she didn't expect to be in the competitive beam lineup, I think that is the kind of things that are going to help us at the end."
While not taking anything away from Oklahoma, coach Patterson made it very clear that her focus tonight was more on getting some crucial big meet experience for several girls in preparation for the upcoming postseason.
"We started off strong with our first two events and I thought we did a good job on the floor exercise where we switched things around and got some new people out on there," Patterson said. "We're getting to the end of the season where we have to get some different people some experience."
Next up for the Tide is the Tornado Relief Meet Friday night at 7:30 pm CT in Coleman Coliseum. The Tide will host the Missouri Tigers, who will become a new SEC rival next year when they join the leage. All proceeds will go towards tornado relief efforts.