Jan. 9, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. --Jeff Graba says his gymnastics team is in "a pretty good spot" heading to Friday's season opener. Ah, but there's also a little mystery for Auburn.
The two true freshmen are MJ Rott and Kullen Hlawek. Rott will be in the rotation for vault, beam and floor. Hlawek will be on uneven bars and an alternate on beam. The redshirt freshmen are Kelsey Kopec and Kara Koster. Kopec will compete in uneven bars and serve as an alternate on the vault. Koster will be an alternate on bars.
The Tigers also have familiar faces in Bri Guy, Megan Walker, Kait Kluz and Caitlin Atkinson, an All-American performer as a freshman last season. She'll compete in all four events.
"We have a young team, so we have a lot to figure out, and the first three or four meets of the year are going to be like that for us," Graba said. "This will be one of those where we'll try to get the feet wet of our freshmen, but not give them too much so that they're overwhelmed. At the same time, we have some upperclassmen who have new roles. To me, it's exciting because we'll see what our team is capable of in a pressure environment."
The mystery comes in because "some people will give you in practice exactly what you see in a meet. And there are always a few that rise to the occasion. They're gamers. They get better in the meet. Those are the ones you really have to figure out."
Texas Woman's University, a Division II school, has won nine USA Gymnastics national titles. Auburn's schedule has been ranked the second toughest in the country by CollegeGymFans.com. The Tigers' next meet is against No. 1 Florida on Jan. 17 in Auburn Arena.