Feb. 14, 2014
Auburn's Megan Walker turned in one of the best performances against Alabama (Hall photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. --Coach Jeff Graba walked away with confidence from one of the best performances in Auburn gymnastics history Friday night, even though it wasn't enough to beat rival Alabama.
Auburn's score of 197.100 was the second best in school history, and was tempered when top gymnast Bri Guy landed hard at the end of the final event, the floor exercise. Alabama scored 197.500.
"They had to be at their best to beat us, and they did it, but we were pretty darn good, too," Graba said.
Alabama continued its winning streak against the Tigers, but, "I don't look at it that way," Graba said. "I look at it is we came in and we were ranked 12thand they were ranked 5th, and if we have Bri at the end we're within a couple of tenths of them. I think it says a lot for our team. I think it says we're under-ranked. Yeah, we didn't upend No. 5, but we take a lot of confidence from it."
Guy landed on her head, but the culprit was an ankle injury, said Graba.
Auburn gymnasts, including Guy, were at their best, setting or tying 11 personal records. Auburn had its best beam and bars scores of the year.
"We were about as good as we can be," Graba said. "We were hitting some landings and getting pretty sharp on some stuff. I was pretty impressed, and even with Bri's fall at the end, it was still one of the best nights we've had in a couple of years."
Graba looked to the Alabama meet as the first step against tough competition to close the regular season in preparation for post-season meets.
"We felt like that is the kind of team we are," he said. "I'm going to feel like this is a pretty good night, but I don't feel like we were above our heads. I think this is what we're capable of. I feel like we realized our potential tonight."
Auburn's top scorers on vault were Guy and Caitlin Atkinson at 9.90.Megan Walkerhad a 9.90 on the bars. Guy scored 9.90 on balance beam. M.J. Rott had a 9.925 on floor.
A crowd of 7,123 cheered, and Auburn and Alabama fans and gymnasts fell silent, and then saluted Guy as she was taken off the floor. Before then, "I think the team drew a lot of energy from the fans. It was a great environment," Graba said.
"It's amazing to see so many people here. It's gymnastics. Who thinks about that? We had so many people. That's pretty cool," Walker said.
Guy had scored 9.875 on uneven bars, 9.90 on vault and 9.90 on beam before the fall with the injured ankle.
"I think she rolled it on the takeoff and that's why she didn't get any altitude. It puts a damper on a pretty good night, and it's a concern of everybody, obviously," Graba said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:Follow @AUGoldMine