By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Another season, another event for Auburn gymnast Abby Milliet.
As a freshman in 2015, Milliet competed in bars and beam. Last year, she added floor. Now, as a junior, vault is part of Abby's all-around agenda.
"Time constraints. Energy constraints," Milliet said of the challenge that comes with balancing four events. "It's a lot more fast-paced when you do all four. Also, if you're in the later part of the lineup, you have to rush to take your grips off really quick to get to beam, or your wrist guards to get to bar. A little more juggling to do."
Before coming to Auburn, Milliet trained and competed in the all-around at Denton Gymnastics Academy in Texas.
"Abby's been a good all-arounder," Auburn coach Jeff Graba said. "She's trained all-around for the last few years, but she hasn't competed. We changed her vault. It's now a 10.0 vault. I think that's one of the considerations. It's a more potent score for us, potentially.
"We also need a couple all-arounders who go in there and be sort of our heavy hitters, and she's definitely talented enough to do that."
With 2016 SEC Gymnast of the Year Caitlin Atkinson graduated, Milliet becomes one of Auburn's veteran leaders.
"Every time I go out there, my mind is always, `I want to do the best for my team. I want to do the best for me," she said. "The mindset for me doesn't change a whole lot. My routines are the same. That's just how I think about any competition whether big or small, I want to do my best."
Milliet remembers what it was like to be a wide-eyed freshman. She's ready if the Tigers' newcomers need advice.
"Have fun, but lean on us, the ones who have done it before," she said. "Because it is scary going out there for the first time, or nerve-wracking. Lean on the ones who have done it before, because we have a lot of insight that we can help with."
Auburn, ranked No. 8, begins the season Friday at 7 p.m. against No. 13 Oregon State at Auburn Arena.
"I think the girls are ready," Graba said. "We've had a pretty good preseason. I think we've done about everything we can in the preseason and we're getting to the point where I think everybody's just bored and wants to get on with competition."
Graba plans to use the season's first month to experiment with the Tigers' lineup.
"The benefit of depth is you can switch people around," he said. "Depth is no good if you don't use it. We feel confident with anybody we put out there. The difference is, the level of talent is continuing to increase in the program.
"And what was good enough two years ago is no longer good enough. Even our veterans are being challenged. It makes you look like a brilliant coach when they're trying to one-up each other. But that's the secret to success."
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) January 5, 2017
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) January 4, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer