Jan. 20, 2012
AUBURN - Auburn gymnastics posted a season-high score despite falling to Georgia, 195.975-195.600, Friday night at the Auburn Arena in the Tigers' season home opener.
"With a young team, what you're really shooting for is to hold your own, be in the game at the end, and we did it," Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. "We still have to get better, and we still have to get a little cleaner, but the girls showed all kinds of heart. We're starting to come around, and it's really nice to see that progression now. We just have to clean a couple of little things up, and we'll be in good shape."
The Tigers started off strong on vault with solid routines from each gymnast. Freshman Bri Guy led Auburn with a season-high 9.850 and junior Toi Garcia added a 9.800. Senior Kylie Shields posted a 9.775, while Allyson Sandusky and Brittany Webster each earned scores of 9.750.
Georgia began on uneven bars and despite solid routines from the first five gymnasts, a missed pirouette from Kat Ding kept the contest close after one round, and Georgia led 48.975-48.925 through the first rotation.
Auburn moved to bars to in the second rotation and was led by Sandusky, who posted a season-high 9.875. Petrina Yokay and Shields each added identical scores of 9.800, while freshman Megan Walker posted a season-high 9.775, and Abbey Habicht scored a 9.675. The Tigers finished on bars with a team season-high 48.925.
The Gym Dogs widened their lead after a strong performance on vault. Ding posted a 9.900, while three more Georgia gymnasts earned scores of 9.825, and the team posted a 49.175 on vault.
Auburn stayed consistent in the third rotation on beam. Shields closed out the event for Auburn with a strong routine and posted a 9.875. Scores of 9.775 from both Walker and Guy, along with a 9.750 from Yokay and a 9.700 from Habicht kept the Tigers on Georgia's heels with a team season-high 48.875.
Georgia moved to floor and earned a 48.850 behind two scores of 9.825 from Couch and Christa Tanella. Heading into the final rotation, Auburn trailed Georgia by just .275 and was looking to post its highest total score of the season.
The Tigers fought hard on floor, but couldn't quite overcome the Gym Dogs' lead. Guy led Auburn with a season-high 9.900, followed closely by Garcia with a season-high 9.875.
"That's what you get with (Bri Guy)," Graba noted. "She's a dynamo. She's powerful, and that's her backup routine. She has a better routine than that."
Shields added a 9.800, while Webster posted a 9.700 and Laura Lane added a 9.600. Auburn finished with another season-high event total of 48.875.
The Gym Dogs moved to beam for the last rotation and earned a 48.975 behind a 9.875 from Chelsea Davis and a 9.800 from Kaylan Earls to seal the win.
Shields took home the all-around title with a season-high score of 39.250 to best Georgia's Noel Couch's 39.050.
A crowd of 4,508 was on hand for Friday's home opener - a new Auburn Arena gymnastics record. The crowd also included 1,637 students, the largest student attendance in more than two years.
"I love the crowd," Graba said. "I just love the fact that everybody showed up tonight. Hopefully, we can kick it up a notch next week against Alabama."
Auburn returns to action next Friday at home as it hosts No. 5 Alabama at 7 p.m. in Auburn Arena.