On October 26, the defending NCAA gymnastics team champions showcased their preseason preparation thus far at the annual Ghosts vs. Goblins Intra-Squad meet. The Ghosts were lead by redshirt senior and eight-time All-American Ashley Priess, who was cleared for a fifth year of eligibility after sitting out her junior year with an injury. Senior and two-time All-American Ashley Sledge, a strong competitor for the Tide on all four events, was captain for the Goblins.
The finishing touches were being put on the new mats and floor in the Frances Smith Practice Facility as the girls entered the gym. In a departure from the old blue, the new mats are all Alabama crimson.
It was good to see senior Becca Alexin out of her knee brace, even if it was just for warmups. Alexin spent all of the last two seasons competing bars only due to an injury, but is looking to add floor and possibly beam back this year. Her floor routine is already looking very nice- at 5’5″, her long lines add a lot to the classical choreography.
Updates are also in the works. Two-time All-American Sarah DeMeo has added a new UB dismount and changed her first pass on floor to what I believe was a double Arabian. Also refreshing their floor routines are Priess and Sledge. Priess has completely reworked her routine with entirely new music and choreography. Sledge’s music arrangement has changed, but she has kept much of her creative and crowd pleasing choreography from last year.
Freshman Carley Sims proved she will be a valuable asset to the Tide in the coming season, taking third in the all-around. However, her routines will need a little cleaning before they are truly ready- flexed feet and the occasional leg separation were both present in Friday’s work. The Tide’s other freshman, Lauren Beers, showed both a tucked and piked double back on floor, as well as a Ray on bars.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Clark won the all-around with some nicely executed skills. (The intra-squad meet is not structured like a traditional competition- instead, the gymnasts show skills and parts of routines they are working on, earning points with every skill they display.) Junior and four-time All-American Kim Jacobs took second.
Other names to watch include 2009 World VT champ and All-American Kayla Williams, three-time All-Americans Diandra Milliner and Marissa Gutierrez, Ria Domier, Brooke Parker, Lindsey Fowler, Lora Leigh Frost, Hunter Dennis, and Olivia Carisella (also returning from an injury.) Notably absent is would-be junior Hannah Toussaint (who may have lost her scholarship to a freshman when Ashley Priess was granted a fifth year.) The GymTide is unique in that rather than designating a standing lineup that the girls must compete for spots on week in and week out, the coaches choose who will compete on a given night at the end of the pre-meet warmup. As such, it’s likely all of the (healthy) team members will be seen competing over the course of the season.
The GymTide is scheduled to start its run for a third consecutive and seventh overall NCAA title on January 11th, 2013 at Missouri. The meet is set to be televised at a later date (TBD) by the Comcast Charter Sports Southeast network. For non-subscribers or those who can’t stand the wait, live commentary and scores begin at 6:30 PM Central under the Meet Central tab at www.gymtide.com.
Ashley Priess debuts her new floor routine
Coach Duckworth shares a practice update
Article by Danelle M. Pecht
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