For the first time in school history, Auburn gymnastics has qualified for nationals in consecutive seasons.
Auburn advanced to the NCAA Championship with a tie for first in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, regional Saturday night, earning the fifth trip to nationals in school history.
"To have this opportunity is incredible," senior Lexus Demers said. "We’re going to go to nationals with our heads held high and prove to everyone that we deserve to be back there.”
The Tigers scored a 196.525, which tied with Stanford for the top spot. Auburn will advance as the No. 1 seed due to a tiebreaker. It's the first regional win in school history.
Auburn opened the night with a first-round bye before scoring a 49.125 on bars. Senior Kait Kluz, sophomore Abby Milliet and freshman Taylor Krippner each scored a 9.850 to lead Auburn.
The Tigers then totaled a 48.850 on beam. Demers led Auburn with a 9.875, which was good for third place in the meet.
Auburn made its jump on the floor, where the Tigers scored a 49.400. Leading the way were three seniors — Kluz, Demers and Caitlin Atkinson — who tied for first overall with a 9.9.
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"I believe the team was feeling the stress on the first two events," said Auburn head coach Jeff Graba. "The second bye was really good for us. We were able to go back and regroup. I knew we were confident and comfortable on floor. I think the team came out with a purpose to really turn it on. They knew they were capable of making it to nationals with the two events at the end.”
Auburn closed the meet with a 49.150 on vault. MJ Rott won the event with a 9.9.
Atkinson finished fifth in the all-around with a score of 39.350.
Auburn will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the NCAA Championship on April 15-16.
"I thought the team did a really good job with handling the pressure tonight," Graba said. "There was a handful of early hiccups to start, but I thought we did really well at the end and cranked out some good routines. To make nationals for the second year in a row solidifies the fact that we are a contender to advance to the national championship every year."
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