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Auburn finds new lineup, positives in loss to GymDogs

Feb. 21, 2014

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Megan Walker filled in for Bri Guy on the floor as Auburn finished on a positive note (Hall photo)
No. 10 Auburn

No. 6 Georgia
By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. --Megan Walker was the one who would give Bri Guy encouragement before she performed her floor routines, one of the ones who would watch one of Auburn's top gymnasts turn in big scores.

But Friday, it was Walker who was called on to replace Guy, who tore both her Achilles tendons last week, and it was Walker who helped Auburn finish strong against Georgia on Friday night.

The GymDogs beat Auburn 196.875 to 196.100 in Auburn Arena, but coach Jeff Graba walked away feeling good about how his team finished with a season high in the floor on the night's last rotation, and the fact Caitlin Atkinson won the all-around with 9.9s on bars and beam and a 9.925 on floor.

"It seemed like the energy wasn't the same, and we finally went to floor and everybody settled down and did what they normally do," he said.

Auburn was coming off the second-best score in school history, a 197.100 against Alabama last Friday. But that was also the meet in which Guy suffered the injury, and underwent surgery on Wednesday.

She wasn't down long. She was at Friday's meet, on a sporty scooter, to support her teammates.

Auburn's top scores came from Walker and Atkinson, with a 9.9 on bars; Atkinson, with a 9.9 on beam; M.J. Rott, who had a 9.9 on vault; and Atkinson and Lexus Demers, with 9.925's on floor.

Graba had to shake up his lineup, so much so that he asked Walker compete floor for the first time in a long time.

"I haven't competed floor in 2½ years. I'm normally the one who talks to Bri before she goes, and the fact I was going in and she wasn't there, it all felt very surreal and is 'this-a-really-happening moment,'" Walker said.

Finally, it came to this: "All right, let's go."

"It all felt very surreal. There was no stopping the waterworks when I get done. I was so happy. I couldn't believe it actually happened."

The floor was a good way to finish, but Auburn had to count a fall on beam and struggled with bars.

"The mistakes came from veterans," Graba said. "I think there was something going on with the psyche a little bit. The people we asked to do new things did a really good job. It's encouraging, but at the same time, we're going to keep asking people to do new things for the next couple of weeks. As we look at this, we're going to look at this as potential.

"I took a lot of positives."

Graba will take those positives on the road at Kentucky next Friday.

Megan Walker has a hug for injured Bri Guy during Friday's meet against Georgia (Tony Hall photo)

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:Follow @AUGoldMine



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