March 21, 2009
NASHVILLE - The 11th-ranked Auburn gymnastics team finished fifth with a 196.350 at the Southeastern Conference Championship Saturday night in the Sommet Center. Senior Lindsey Puckett finished tied for sixth in the all-around with a 39.400
"This was a great meet for us," head gymnastics coach Jeff Thompson said. "This is setting us up for postseason at NCAA Regionals and hopefully, nationals. We're proud of this because we're gearing everything towards the NCAA Championships and this is just a stepping stone. We're proud of our girls and we couldn't have asked for anything more from them tonight."
Fifth-ranked Alabama upset top-ranked Georgia to capture the team title with a 197.300 to the Bulldogs' 196.925. Florida, ranked sixth nationally, finished third with a 196.750, followed by No. 4 LSU with a 196.550 to place fourth. No. 9 Arkansas earned a 195.650 for a sixth-place finish and Kentucky was seventh with a 195.000.
For the Tigers, it is only the second time in head coach Jeff Thompson's career that Auburn has scored a 196 or better at the league championship. Saturday's score of 196.350 is the best that Thompson's Tigers have posted at the SEC Championship.
"I thought that our seniors had a great night," Thompson said. "I think what's special is that we had adversity in our bars lineup and Carmen Nelms stood up for us and gave us a solid score. We had some mishaps but were able to recover. Overall, our performance tonight shows just how consistent this team is. This was a great crowd and a tough environment to compete in with all the fans cheering. It's amazing how our freshmen were able to hit their routines tonight. Our team is moving in the right direction to getting to nationals in a couple of weeks."
After a bye in the first rotation, the Tigers opened on bars, combining for a 49.250. Freshman Allyson Sandusky led the way with a career high 9.9. Fifth on bars, Puckett notched a 9.85 and was followed by a 9.875 from Mills.
Auburn moved to beam in the third rotation, where stumbles took a toll as the Tigers posted a 48.805. Sandusky set her second personal-best score of the event, earning a 9.8 as the third beam worker. The senior duo of Mills and Puckett also were awarded 9.8s.
With two rotations completed, the Tigers had tallied a 98.100. Auburn received a bye in the fourth rotation and returned to compete on floor in the fifth rotation.
Puckett posted a 9.9 as the leading scorer on floor, as the Tigers went 49.125. Junior Carmen Nelms started things off on floor with a 9.8 and was followed with a 9.825 performance from senior Claire Seiffert. Rachel Inniss contributed a 9.85 as the fourth competitor.
After a bye in the sixth round, Auburn finished out the meet on vault. Sandusky put up her third strong score of the day, leading off vault with a 9.8. Krissy Voss and Seiffert scored back-to-back 9.8s, prior to Mills' 9.825. Puckett closed out the meet for Auburn with a 9.85 as the Tigers went 49.125.
The Tigers will now wait until Monday's announcement as to where they will head for NCAA Regional competition on April 4.