“This is louder than our games”- Zep Jasper, Auburn Basketball player
Coming on the back of a fantastic season the No 6. Auburn Tigers (8-2 5-2 SEC) came back to open the newly crowned Neville Arena with a half of a SEC Season Championship on the line versus the undefeated No. 3 Florida Gators (11-0 7-0 SEC). Thanks to performances by Olympic Gold medalist Sunisa Lee, senior Derrian Gobourne and the largest crowd in Neville Arena history, Auburn set a program record with a score of 198.575, tying the Gators.
Auburn was down for almost all of the meet, and during the final rotation it was Leah Clapper for the Gators that, due to a slight miss step on the balance beam, scored a 9.150 and brought the score to 198.575 to 187.575, as Auburn had one person left to go. Derrian Gobourne had one shot and she had to be perfect on the floor exercise.
But as senior Cassie Stevens said about the team “we are up for any Challenge” and “we do it together.”
Derrian Gobourne would rise to that challenge, as she got what many feel should have been given to her a long time ago, a perfect 10 that sent shockwaves around Neville Arena, as the Tigers revealed their scorecards and revealing the tie and a program record for the Tigers of 198.575 to 198.575.
When asked about how she felt going up to do her final floor exercise Derrian said, “There was pressure, but I just wanted to go out there and be me.”
Sunisa Lee would be the meets all around point leader with a score of 39.800, and a perfect 10 in the balance beam. The perfect 10 on the balance beam seemed almost elementary to her, as this was her second in a row, and the way she performed tonight there is evidence that may go to forever in a row.
Crowned earlier that morning, Auburn Arena has turned into Neville Arena, but that did not change the energy that was radiating from the Auburn Jungle. From the way it looks, it does not matter the sport, the name of the arena or when the game is being played, this Auburn fanbase will show up and be loud to support their Tigers.
These Tigers show that love right back as you can clearly see that in acts like Sunisa Lee talking to little kids that look up to what is their Olympic hero and above all Auburn Tiger, and according to Cassie Stevens it is “Truly one of the greatest feelings” when talking about the Auburn Family.
Over the course of the meet you could tell both of these great teams went to war, and as head coach Jeff Graba put “it was a National Championship caliber meet.”
The Tigers will be looking to carry this momentum as they have two more meets before the SEC Championship, the Elevate the Stage Meet in Huntsville Alabama on March 6 at 1:00 PM against Arkansas Razorbacks, the Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Georgia Bulldogs. They also have the Michigan Tri Meet on March 12 on 3:00 PM against Michigan and West Virginia. They will then have the SEC Championship on March 19 in Birmingham Alabama, where these two great teams will most likely wage war again as they are co-setters of the highest score of the season.