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Auburn gymnastics looking to make more history in 2023

Auburn gymnast Derrian Gobourne performs a dynamic floor routine during the gymnastics preview meet in Neville Arena on Dec. 16, 2022.
Auburn gymnast Derrian Gobourne performs a dynamic floor routine during the gymnastics preview meet in Neville Arena on Dec. 16, 2022.

Auburn gymnastics is preparing for a 2023 season that will build on its record-breaking 2022, a season full of perfect scores and program records. 

First beginning their season with the 2023 Super 16 Challenge, the Tigers will face steep competition to open the year before heading to Florida for the first meet of the regular season.

That Super 16 Challenge will be held in Las Vegas, but the Tigers have had a chance to have their annual preview meet, an annual intrasquad meet that is not scored but allows the team an opportunity to get acquainted with the equipment and competition format.

The Tigers were dominant in the 2022 season, with gymnasts combining for 15 All-America honors, a program record. Of those awards, 11 were earned by the freshman class. 

The team competed in the Final Four for the first time in program history, scoring 197.350 to place fourth at the meet. Prior to the 2022 season, the Tigers were predicted to finish as No. 14 in the nation but wildly surpassed that to reach the national championship meet. 

Freshman Suni Lee, arriving at Auburn after winning Olympic gold in the all-around competition, led the team with eight All-American honors, four from the regular season and four at the NCAA Championships. She finished on the first team in two events: the all-around and beam. 

Lee was named SEC Freshman of the Year at the end of the season and returns for what could be an equally dominant sophomore season. She has announced that this will be her final year with the Tigers, afterwards planning to focus on preparing for Olympic competition.

Senior Derrian Gobourne unexpectedly announced that she would be returning for an extra season after earning first-team honors for her floor routine in the regular season and at the NCAA meet. 

Freshman Sophia Groth earned two All-American honors for her beam routine, with fifth-year Drew Watson and freshman Sara Hubbard both earning first team on vault at the national meet. Lee, Gobourne, Groth and junior Aria Brusch all earned a place on the All-SEC team. 

The Tigers bring in three freshmen this season, with two to compete. Olivia Greave will miss her first year due to injury so Hannah Hagle and Hailey John will be the two newcomers competing this season. Hagle competed in the all-around during the team's preview meet.

1/7/23 2023 Super 16 Challenge: 8 p.m. CST (Big 10 Network)

In the inaugural year of this meet, No. 5 Auburn will take on No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Michigan and No. 10 UCLA. The Tigers compete on the second day of the two-day, four-session invitational. 

The meet features 16 universities, including five of the top 10 teams and 13 of the top 25 in the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association's pre-season rankings. Sessions one, two and four will air on the Big 10 Network, with session three airing on the Big 10 Network+.

1/13/23 @ Florida: 6:30 p.m. CST (SEC Network)

Auburn will chase history when it travels to Gainesville to face Florida. The Tigers have never defeated Florida — winless in their 20 matchups against the Gators but hope to end that streak in January.

Florida claimed a 31-1-1 record in 2022 while going 6-0-1 in the SEC. The Gators' incredible performances carried to the postseason where the won the SEC Championships and also reached the Final Four where they faced Auburn, Oklahoma and Utah. Florida placed second in the Final Four.

1/20/23 vs Arkansas: 7:30 p.m. CST (SEC Network)

This series between the Tigers and Razorbacks is tied at 9-9 all-time. Last March, Auburn won 197.225-196.450 to extend its current win streak over Arkansas to three. 

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The Razorbacks finished 6-9 in 2022, going 0-7 in their SEC meets. At the SEC Championships, Arkansas finished sixth of eight teams. Advancing to the NCAA Regional and ultimately the Sweet 16, finishing fourth of the four teams at the meet.

1/27/23 vs North Carolina State: 7 p.m. CST

Auburn has just one matchup against the Wolfpack, a 2007 victory of 194.375-192.075. This will be a non-conference meet that allows the Tigers to grow their experience outside of the SEC.

North Carolina State finished its 2022 season at 16-10, 3-4 in its Atlantic Coach Conference meets. The Wolfpack advanced to the second round of NCAA Regionals, along with LSU and Missouri of the SEC. 

2/3/23 @ Alabama: 6:30 p.m. CST (SEC Network)

Auburn only has three wins against Alabama in the all-time series (3-22), but two of those wins have come within the last three seasons when the Tigers beat Alabama in 2020 and 2022 at home.

Alabama completed its 2022 season with a 9-4 record before heading to the postseason. The Crimson Tide found success after the regular season with a second-place finish in the SEC Championships and finishing in seventh place in the NCAA Championships.

2/10/23 vs LSU: 7:30 p.m. CST (SEC Network)

The Bayou Bengals are a team Auburn has historically struggled against. LSU holds an 11-5 lead when the two teams face off, but Auburn was able to win 197.225-196.725 last March. 

LSU finished its 2022 season at 9-3, 4-3 in the SEC, and placed fifth at the SEC Championships. The Tigers of Baton Rouge finished fifth at the SEC Championship meet. Advancing to the NCAA Championships, LSU finished third in the four-team meet. 

2/19/23 @ Missouri: 5 p.m. CST (SEC Network)

Auburn has had its way against Missouri in the series, holding a 10-2 series lead over Missouri and outperforming the Tigers in the SEC Championships and the NCAA Championships in 2022. However, both of Auburn's losses to Missouri have come when the meet was in Columbia, Mo. which is where the meet will take place in 2023.

Despite Missouri's struggles against Auburn in 2022, Missouri still had a successful season as it finished fourth in the SEC Championships and fifth in the NCAA Championships.

2/24/23 vs Georgia: 6:30 p.m. CST (SEC Network)

The gymnastics version of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is a close one. Georgia leads 10-9 historically, but Auburn is making a run in recent meets. The Tigers are on a winning streak of five, most recently defeating the Bulldogs 197.500-195.725 in late March of last year. 

The Bulldogs finished at 4-10, struggling to a 1-6 SEC record. Georgia finished fourth in the afternoon session of the SEC Championship meet with a 195.800 score at the end of the meet. The Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Regional in Auburn but were eliminated in the second round after finishing last among the four teams. 

3/3/23 @ Kentucky: 6 p.m. CST (SEC Network)

The all-time series between Auburn and Kentucky is  nearly balanced as Auburn holds a small 9-8 lead over the Wildcats. Auburn handled Kentucky in the regular season last year with a 197.925-197.150 win in February.

As for the Wildcats, they finished the 2022 season with an 8-3 record before falling flat in the postseason. Kentucky finished seventh in the SEC Championships and saw its season come to a close at the NCAA Auburn Regional after it failed to qualify over Auburn and Florida.

3/10/23 vs Penn State: 7 p.m. CST

This meet is also a non-conference proving ground for the Tigers. Auburn has faced off against the Nittany Lions just once, a 194.375-193.500 victory in Happy Valley. Penn State had an up-and-down 2022 season, ending with a tenth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. 

Callie Stanford | Sports Editor

Callie Stanford, junior in communications, is the sports editor at the Auburn Plainsman. Currently a junior, she has been with The Plainsman since January 2021.

Twitter: @Stanford1Callie

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