AUBURN, Ala. -- The No. 16 Auburn gymnastics team kicks off a challenging two-week homestand Friday, Jan. 26, hosting No. 6 Kentucky in Auburn Arena. The Tigers and the Wildcats will go head-to-head at 7:30 p.m. CT and the meet will be live on SEC Network.
"Starting strong will be key for this young squad Friday," head coach Jeff Graba said. "Being at home gives us a great advantage because we get to start on vault and the crowd really helps fuel our energy. It would be great to pack Auburn Arena because Kentucky is historically a challenging team to go against. We are similarly matched and we have our hands full."
It's the annual "Are You Shorter Than Jeff Graba" meet Friday night in Auburn Arena! Fans 5'5" and under will receive free admission. In addition, Auburn gymnastics popsockets will be given out to Auburn students.
In addition, vouchers for one free general admission are out and about in the Auburn/Opelika area and can be found at the following locations -- Chicken Salad Chick (Auburn), Chick-Fil-A (Auburn & Opelika), Momma G's (Magnolia, Longleaf, and Thatch), Alumni Hall (Auburn & Opelika) and the AU Bookstore.
Fans are also able to purchase tickets at AUBTix.com. General Admission tickets are available for $6, while Reserved are $8. Tickets for groups of 15 or more are $3 apiece. Fans are encouraged to arrive before 6:45 p.m. CT and to take advantage of Auburn's "Print-at-Home" ticket feature to avoid lines at the ticket office.
One shuttle will bring spectators from the X Lot to Auburn Arena and back. The shuttle will begin picking up at the X Lot beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT and run continuously until 10 p.m. CT, reversing its route at 8 p.m. CT. The X Lot is located at War Eagle Way and Donahue Drive. Fans will be dropped off at the transit stop in front of the arena suites.
In addition, parking in S Lot is available for ticket holders with a valid ticket to Friday's meet, anyone who is a Tigers Unlimited member with a valid membership card, and Individuals possessing a meet credential. Parking will be available while spots remain open.
The Kentucky Wildcats are sixth nationally with a 196.325 average. The squad (4-1, 1-1 SEC) is coming off a home loss to Florida last week where the Gators bested the Wildcats, 196.325-195.950.
Sophomore Mollie Korth is among the nation's best on vault and floor. She ranks fourth on vault with a 9.908 mark and is tied for 16th on floor with a 9.883 average. Juniors Sidney Dukes and Alex Hyland are each tied for 14th nationally on beam, having a 9.875 average.
Depth is the name of the game for the Tigers in 2018 as each event is expected to be at least 10 gymnasts deep. The tentative lineup for Friday's meet features five juniors, three sophomores, and five freshmen. (Lineups are subject to change prior to the meet)
The Tigers kick things off on vault where the team has shown progressive improvement from meet to meet. Freshmen Drew Watson and Jada Glenn with sophomore Gracie Day highlight the corps, as the trio are capable of putting together three-straight 10.0 vaults for the squad. Sophomore Katie Becker will lead off the event with juniors A'Miracal Phillips and Taylor Krippner following.
Auburn moves on to bars for rotation two with Watson opening up the event for the second-consecutive meet. Krippner will make her season debut in the second slot, while steady sophomore Kendal Moss holds down the third position. The final three spots will be mixed up from the previous meets Friday with redshirt junior Abby Milliet going fourth. Day is slated to go fifth, while junior Samantha Cerio will anchor the event. Cerio is among the nation's best on bars early on the season, averaging a 9.892.
Rotation three has the team on beam in another event that has seen constant improvement from the youthful squad. Freshman Allie Riddle will lead off for the third-straight meet with Cerio and classmate Meredith Sylvia following. Redshirt sophomore Emma Slappey has been very consistent for the Tigers in the event, averaging a 9.825. Milliet and Krippner will close out the rotation after scoring a 9.875 each last week.
AU will bring the energy in the final rotation as the squad takes to the floor. Becker kicks things off with junior Skyler Sheppard following. Cerio, Day, and Slappey are set to go third, fourth, and fifth and Milliet will anchor the event.
Auburn remains on the Plains, hosting No. 5 Florida in a SEC meet. The Tigers take on the Gators at 6 p.m. CT in Auburn Arena and the contest will be televised on SEC Network.
|Auburn's Projected Lineup|
|1. Katie Becker||1. Drew Watson||1. Allie Riddle||1. Katie Becker|
|2. A'Miracal Phillips||2. Taylor Krippner||2. Samantha Cerio||2. Skyler Sheppard|
|3. Taylor Krippner||3. Kendal Moss||3. Meredith Sylvia||3. Samantha Cerio|
|4. Drew Watson||4. Abby Milliet||4. Emma Slappey||4. Gracie Day|
|5. Gracie Day||5. Gracie Day||5. Abby Milliet||5. Emma Slappey|
|6. Jada Glenn||6. Samantha Cerio||6. Taylor Krippner||6. Abby Milliet|
|Alt: Ashley Smith||Alt: Katie Becker||Alt: Katie Becker||Alt: Ashley Smith|