Jan. 10, 2014
AUBURN, Ala. -A strong score on floor in the final rotation helped No. 13 Auburn gymnastics post its best opening score since 2010 and defeat Texas Woman's University 194.875-189.825 in the Tigers' season opener Friday in Auburn Arena.
Auburn's score of 49.325 on floor helped the Tigers achieve its best score in a season opener under head coach Jeff Graba.
"We wanted to come out a little better this year," said Graba. "I think we did that and we usually try to get our feet wet in the first week then ramp it up. I'm not surprised we had a couple of hiccups, but I think this team will ramp it up faster than our last three."
All-around scores from sophomore Caitlin Atkinson and junior Bri Guy led the Tigers. Guy's vault score of 9.900 was the highest individual score for any event and Atkinson won the all-around title with a total of 39.200.
The Tigers also took home the title on all four events.
Sophomore Lexus Demers broke a career-high score on balance beam with a 9.750, as well as setting a new career mark in floor exercise with a score of 9.875. Demers also tied her career-high on vault with a 9.750.
"It feels really good," said Demers. "It was unexpected, but I feel really happy that I was able to do something about it. I took the drive from being an alternate last year and I tried hard to earn my spot."
Three Auburn gymnasts competed in their first collegiate meet Friday, freshmen M.J. Rott and Kullen Hlawek along with redshirt freshman Kelsey Kopec. Rott earned a 9.875 on the floor exercise, tying three other Auburn gymnasts for the meet's highest floor score.
"I was excited to see what M.J. did for us tonight, Kullen too," said Graba. "Kullen is competing her worst event for us because she has a wrap on her leg. She's the national floor champ and we can't even get her out there in our floor lineup. For her to rise to the occasion in her worst event and lead off, that's a tough position for a freshman."
The Tigers struggled on beam scoring a 47.650, but Graba says he expects it to become their best event.
"That's a pretty technical event so I guess I wasn't overly surprised," said Graba. "The team has put a lot of pressure on themselves to be good and I think of all the events that's going to crop up on, it's beam. The rest of the meet is what we expect from this team and it's only going to get better."
Auburn will return to action Friday, Jan. 17 against the reigning national champion Florida Gators at 7 p.m. in Auburn Arena.