AUBURN, Ala. – The No. 16 Auburn gymnastics team faces a tough test this weekend as the squad travels to No. 3 Florida Friday, Jan. 27, and then heads to Birmingham for a Sunday match up vs. No. 5 Alabama.
The Tigers and the Gators will square off in the O'Connell Center at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network. Auburn will then travel to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex for the third-annual Elevate the Stage meet vs. instate rival Alabama. AU and the Tide will compete in a non-conference tilt beginning at 4 p.m. CT.
"We're going against tough teams this weekend and we're anxious to see how we match up score wise with our young team," head coach Jeff Graba said. "I like our team's mentality right now and we're a strong and ready team. However, this weekend will definitely be a challenge for us. We'll have to be smart managing our lineups and this will help us develop our depth."
IN THE RANKINGS
Auburn stands in the No. 16 spot in this week’s RoadToNationals.com rankings with an average of 195.717.
“I believe we improved as a team last Friday, but our score didn’t reflect that growth,” head coach Jeff Graba said. “We had a long, four-day road trip and I think the team handled it well. We are excited and determined to get a strong week of work in before we go on the road and face high-quality opponents in Florida and Alabama this weekend.”
Oklahoma holds strong in the No. 1 spot, while LSU remains second nationally. Florida, Utah, and Alabama close out the top five. Kentucky ranks sixth, Denver at No. 7, UCLA is eighth, and Southern Utah and Michigan hold on to ninth and tenth, respectively.
Auburn ranks in the top 20 in three events, including 12th on bars with a 49.050 average. The Tigers are tied for 16th on floor at 48.942 and are 20th on beam (48.858).
The Florida Gators stand in the No. 3 spot nationally with a 197.342 average. The team has reached 197 in all three meets so far this season, including a 197.600 two weeks ago at home.
Senior Kennedy Baker and sophomore Alicia Boren rank seventh (39.538) and eighth (39.525), respectively, in the all-around nationally. Three Gators are among the top 10 on vault, while junior Alex McMurtry is fifth nationally on bars at 9.917. Boren is tied for third on beam (9.925) and Baker is tied for fifth on floor (9.925).
The Alabama Crimson Tide boasts the fifth-highest average in the nation at 197.008. The Tide is coming off a season-high score this past Friday, finishing with a 197.225 on the road at Missouri.
Alabama ranks No. 2 on beam this year with a 49.408 average. The squad has three athletes in the top 10 in the event - Aja Sims (t-5th), Nickie Guerrero (t-5th), and Kiana Winston (8th). Winston is sixth in the all-around at 39.550 and tied for second on bars (9.925). The junior is also tied for 10th on floor with a 9.917 average.
Auburn return to Auburn Arena for another SEC match up, hosting No. 23 Arkansas, Feb. 3. The Tigers and the Razorbacks will square off at 7 p.m. CT and the meet will stream on SEC Network+.
|Auburn's Projected Lineup|
|1. Katie Becker||1. Samantha Cerio||1. Kullen Hlawek||1. Samanthan Cerio|
|2. Emma Engler||2. Kelsey Kopec||2. Samantha Cerio||2. Katie Becker|
|3. Taylor Krippner||3. Taylor Krippner||3. Emma Engler||3. Lucia Scaglione|
|4. Gracie Day||4. Emma Engler||4. Katie Becker||4. Gracie Day|
|5. MJ Rott||5. Gracie Day||5. Emma Slappey||5. Emma Slappey|
|6. Abby Milliet||6. Abby Milliet||6. Abby Milliet||6. MJ Rott|
|Alt: A'Miracal Phillips||Alt: Kendal Moss||Alt: Taylor Krippner||Alt: Kullen Hlawek|