No. 15 Tigers Roll Over Illinois-Chicago to Open 2009 Season
Jan. 4, 2009
CHICAGO - The No. 15 Auburn (1-0) gymnastics team opened the 2009 season by defeating Illinois-Chicago (0-1) 196.375-193.850 Sunday in the UIC Physical Education Building. The Tigers captured all four event titles and four freshmen made their collegiate debut. The team score also marked the highest season-opening score in the program's history. The win gives Auburn a 7-1 all-time record against the Flames and has now won three season-openers against UIC.
"I'm really excited for our team," head gymnastics coach Jeff Thompson said. "I knew they had the potential to perform like I knew we could for a first meet. Our gymnasts were awesome. We talked about each person doing their own job, whether it was going out and hitting one routine or four and everyone did that today. We hit 22-of-24 routines in a season-opener."
Seniors Lindsey Puckett and A.J. Mills placed first and second on two events. On vault, Puckett brought home the title and Mills was second. On balance beam it was Mills finishing first and Puckett second. Sophomore Rachel Inniss was the floor exercise champ, followed by teammates Puckett and Mills. Mills was the uneven bars titlist and Puckett placed third. In all-around competition, Puckett was first with a 39.475 and Mills followed with a 39.450 for runner-up honors.
"I thought I did really well," Puckett said of her performance today. "I felt confident and it's something to defiantly to build on, but as far as this meet, it helps heading into the next one. I feel like I am playing a bigger role this year by encouraging everyone and making sure they have confidence in themselves. As seniors, Claire, A.J. and I look out for everyone."
The Tigers opened the meet on uneven bars scoring a 48.90 and were guided behind strong performances from veterans and rookies alike. Mills and Puckett led the way notching scores of 9.85 and 9.825, respectively. In their first collegiate event, freshmen Allyson Sandusky Kendall Swartz provided big points, scoring a 9.8 and 9.75, respectively. Sophomore Leah Vining was in exhibition.
Following a rough first vault, Auburn rebounded to post three scores over 9.8 and finished with a 49.050. Sophomore Krissy Voss scored a 9.825 in the No. 3 spot and was followed up by a Mills' score of 9.85. Puckett, the sixth and final competitor, landed a 9.9. Freshman Kylie Shields was in action in her first of two events and registered a 9.725. Laura Lane, the fourth freshman in action for the Tigers, was in exhibition.
In the third rotation on floor exercise, sophomore Rachel Inniss tumbled to a career-high 9.9 to lead the Tigers. Behind Inniss was Puckett with a 9.850 and Mills registered a 9.825. The trio finished first through third as Auburn tallied a 49.075 on floor. Junior Krissy Voss was in exhibition.
Mills tied a career high in the fourth and final rotation on the balance beam, garnering a 9.925 en route to the beam title. Puckett notched a 9.9 to place second. Shields and sophomore Katie Hurley each posted 9.850s. Auburn tallied a 49.350 to tie the fifth-highest beam score, a mark that was set at the 2004 NCAA Central Regional. Voss was the exhibitionist.
"I'm proud of our freshmen," Thompson said. "They didn't get overwhelmed. They were confident and knew what to do. Rachel on floor today was awesome. She's finally healthy. I am super proud of our ladies today. Mistakes were made early in the lineup and those that followed were focused and hit their routines unrattled so we didn't have to count those scores. That's what good teams do."
The Tigers will make their home schedule Friday against in-state rival and sixth-ranked Alabama at 7 p.m. in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The meet has been tabbed as Auburn's Pink Meet to create awareness for breast cancer.
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