AUBURN, Ala. – It is safe to say gymnastics is in full force on The Plains.
No. 5 Auburn took to the floor against No. 20 NC State in front of a packed Neville Arena. With the jungle roaring and Auburn showing off skill after skill, the Tigers were able to cruise to their second straight victory by score of 197.175 – 196.125.
“I thought it was good, not necessarily great,” Auburn senior Cassie Stevens said. “I thought we made some mistakes and those are definitely things we are going to want to improve on in the future. I just feel like we haven’t hit our stride yet.”
Despite the win, Auburn did not put on a clean meet to the degree so many are used to seeing. However, the issue should not worry anyone, as the Tigers were switching certain aspects on purpose to try out new orders and see if there was any scoring advantage that could be gained.
The change seemed to cause the squad to struggle consistently as a whole, but that is to be expected and is not a worry.
“We switched a lot of things up on them on purpose,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. “For the most part I thought we got sharper with the things we were trying to do, but our consistency is what got us a little bit tonight.”
The star of the show was by far Cassie Stevens.
The senior started off strong with a 9.925 on the vault, which matched her season-high. After the first rotation all eyes were on her to see if she could deliver on bars. The Arizona native followed the vault up with a 9.850 on bars to match yet another season-high before getting a respectable 9.900 on beam. Stevens capped off the night with a flawless floor routine which saw her earn another season-high and tie a career-high with a 9.925 in route to winning the all-around for the meet with a 39.600.
“I was really happy with my performance,” Stevens said. “I feel like working on all those little finer details in the gym this past week paid off, which is really nice when your hard work pays off.”
Sophia Groth continues to struggle at moments. Tonight, the beam was her biggest enemy, as the sophomore was only able to come away with a 9.575 after a stumble. This comes after a fall during her floor routine against Arkansas that resulted in a 9.300. Graba said that Groth is expected to make those mistakes now since she missed part of November and all of December due to injury and is “still not one hundred percent.”
The early lead Auburn built up never seemed in doubt throughout the meet in big part to Suni Lee.
Even though Lee did not compete in the all-around, only participating in the first three rotations, her presence was felt most on bars where she scored a meet-high 9.950. Do not expect the Olympic gold medalist to be sitting out much longer though, as Graba said the reason for change is due to rest and preserving Lee to compete deep into the season.
“We are just trying to be smart with her,” Graba said. “It had nothing else to with other than just more of a training plan looking ahead long term.”
The slow-paced meet was capped off by none other than Derrian Gobourne’s floor routine. Goborne once again showed what she is capable of with an impressive 9.975 score. The fifth-year senior continues to be the staple of the Auburn squad when it comes to the floor and that should not be expected to change anytime soon.
“When she gets on the stage you just have to step out of the way,” Graba said. “Just really proud of how she can really turn it on when her team needs her to turn it on.”
Auburn will be back in action next week in Tuscaloosa against rivals Alabama. The meet is scheduled for a 6:30 start time and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.