GAINESVILLE, FL. – Practice is over, not for the week, or the month, but for the season and all that remains for the Alabama Gymnastics team is the hunt for a fifth NCAA Championship this weekend.
The Crimson Tide traveled to Gainesville, Fla. on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon they took care of interviews with CBS, the network that will broadcast the championships on a delayed basis in a few weeks, as well as the gathered media at the pre-championship press conference.
"This has been a really sensational season," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said during the press conference. "We've enjoyed the journey and we're proud to be here at the National Championship."
Its press obligations complete, the team then went through its last practice session, spending the nearly two-hour practice adjusting to the equipment and the podium and generally settling into its environment.
On Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, the Tide will compete with five other teams in the second of two semifinals for the right to advance to Friday's NCAA Super Six Team Final. Alabama starts Thursday's session on the vault and will end on the floor exercise.
"I think we have to come out on fire," Patterson said. "You can't take anything for granted. The field is so tight, it's like regionals. You make a couple of mistakes that count and you are out. You can't afford an off night."
The meet's No. 3 seed, Alabama will face off against No. 2 Florida, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 10 Missouri and No. 11 Michigan in an effort to grab one of the three Super Six bids available from each semifinal session. The Tide has already faced Florida, Arkansas and Michigan during the regular season.
No. 1 seed UCLA will headline the first semifinal starting at 1 p.m. ET when they will take on No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Utah, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 9 LSU and No. 12 Nebraska.
The Tide, making its 28th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance, has won national titles in 2002, 1996, 1991 and 1988 as well as finishing in the top six 25 times since first making the NCAA field in 1983.