Auburn gymnastics heads into its final meet of the season with the memories of last season’s ending on its mind.
It was a year ago this week that Auburn gymnastics fell into the cycle of canceled events due to COVID-19. The Tigers were in Durham, New Hampshire, competing at the UNH Quad Meet where they had just taken second place.
“We flew back from that meet, we didn’t bring our A-game to that meet,” said head coach Jeff Graba. “They all just assumed we were going to get next week and we’re just going to go about our business and really start clicking. They didn’t take that meet as seriously as they should have. That was the last meet.”
Now the Tigers are competing in their final regularly-scheduled meet at home against No. 8 Arkansas. This meet is a milestone in Auburn gymnastics that shows the adversity it took to compete this season against the odds. Auburn is ready to take back the bad memories of its final meet and change them with positivity going into this postseason.
“It isn’t just that COVID came along and took away postseason,” Graba said. “It’s that COVID came along and took away postseason, took away the rest of the regular season and four or five careers, seniors that were done, on possibly one of our worst performances. I think, in our team in particular, that’s held a bad taste in our mouth.”
Auburn left that meet a year ago with a 195.825. This season the Tigers changed their tune. Auburn is now coming off its fourth-highest program road score with a 197.025 against No. 1 Florida. This pushed Auburn’s National Qualifying Score to a 196.813 and the No. 12 seed.
The Tigers are taking the momentum they have been building all season and are adding onto it going into their Arkansas meet. Auburn’s top two home scores are in the 197s, which is what counts going into the postseason. Therefore, this Arkansas meet is more for working on ability and less about the outcome on the scoreboard.
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“It’s a little bit of a different game plan this weekend,” Graba said. “ We’re going to try to develop a little bit more depth, try to get some people some opportunities, but the goal is still to beat that 197.075 that would improve our QSF.”
Auburn faced some more recent adversity in its previous meet with sophomore Cassie Stevens having a mishap on bars. This held her from her vault routine, but the sophomore was able to put a 9.875 on beam to boost Auburn’s overall average into the 197s.
The Tigers are going into the Arkansas meet with high expectations on the mats even if it has little effect on the upcoming postseason.
“Anything in the 197s would be huge for us,” Graba said. “Anything in the mid-196s would be a really good performance from us. Let’s not take a step back. Let’s continue to build.”
No. 12 Auburn takes on No. 8 Arkansas inside Auburn Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. CST. The meet will be broadcasted on SEC Network.
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