No. 5 Auburn Cages Wildcats for 196.475-192.550 Win
Feb. 20, 2009
AUBURN - The fifth-ranked Auburn gymnastics team defeated Kentucky 196.475-192.550 Friday night in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers delivered strong performances from start to finish and had gymnasts receive career marks on both vault and floor.
The win improves Auburn's record to 5-3, 3-2 SEC, as the Tigers won their second-straight league meet. Kentucky falls to 2-6, 0-6 SEC and is done with conference action.
"We didn't have our best night, but to still make a 196 - two years ago, we would've killed for a 196," head gymnastics coach Jeff Thompson said. "The bright spot is there is so much room for improvement with Alabama next week and the SEC Championship coming up in three weeks. This is a team that can achieve things that have never happened, so we're just keeping our fingers crossed that we keep everybody healthy, we get the sick ones back and just keep doing what we're doing."
Lindsey Puckett won her third all-around title of her senior campaign behind a 39.525 performance. Puckett matched a career-high on vault with a 9.950 and tumbled to a 9.925 on floor to match another personal best to win both events. She now has 41 titles to her name. Puckett's score on vault is the second-best in the program's history and her floor score also ranks among Auburn's best.
"It was probably one of the best," Puckett said of her vault. "Jeff was working with me, tweaking it a little bit on Thursday and he reminded me of what we talked about."
For the second time in as many weeks, freshman Kendall Swartz claimed victory on bars. A.J. Mills, the reigning SEC Gymnast of the Week, picked up her second beam title of her senior season and finished second in all-around competition with a 39.425.
"Overall, we did a great job of getting each other's rope," Mills said. "We still have a lot of things that we need to go back in the gym and work on, but overall it was a great meet."
A trio of gymnasts matched or set career highs as the Tigers posted the highest score of the season on vault with a 49.275. Allyson Sandusky opened the rotation by posting a 9.825 and was followed up by Kylie Shields, who matched her personal best of 9.8. Vaulting third, Voss registered a solid score of 9.825. In the vault lineup for the first time in her career, Katie Hurley provided the Tigers with a 9.775. Senior anchors Mills and Puckett were awarded a 9.875 and 9.95, respectively, to finish one-two on the event.
Kentucky was unable to find a rhythm on bars and opened the meet with 47.075 showing.
In the second rotation on bars Auburn was guided by four strong performances from a pair of freshmen and a pair of seniors. After two shaky routines, Sandusky got the Tigers back on track with a 9.8. Swartz responded with a 9.85 routine to claim her second bars title in as many weeks. Puckett and Mills again closed out the event with 9.825s each to earn runner-up honors as Auburn finished with a 48.925.
The second rotation sent the Wildcats to vault where they combined for a 49.050. After two rotations, Auburn held a 98.200-96.125 advantage.
Auburn again began a rotation with two shaky performances, but the final four competitors rallied for the seventh-ranked beam team in the nation en route to a 49.075. Rachel Inniss scored a 9.8, followed by a 9.825 showing from Shields. Mills' 9.875 in the No. 5 spot earned her the event title. Anchoring the beam lineup was Puckett with a 9.825. Shields and Puckett would finish tied for second.
On floor in the third rotation, the Wildcats struggled with two gymnasts stepping out of bounds to finish with a score of a 47.675. With the third rotation complete, Auburn increased its lead on Kentucky, 147.275-143.800.
Armed with a No. 3 ranking, the Tigers moved to floor, their marquee event to close out the night. Five gymnasts earned scores of 9.8 or higher as Auburn flipped and tumbled to a 49.200. For the second week in a row, Puckett was nearly flawless, scoring a 9.925 as the final performer. Prior to Puckett's performance, Claire Seiffert and Inniss each were awarded 9.8s, Voss was awarded a 9.825 and Mills notched a 9.85 to finish second.
Kentucky concluded the meet on beam, scoring a 48.750.
Auburn will wrap up the SEC portion of its schedule Feb. 27 at intrastate rival Alabama. The meet is slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum. FSN will tape-delay the meet on March 6 at 5:30 p.m.
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