Another week, another highly ranked opponent awaits Auburn’s gymnastics team.
Second-ranked Oklahoma will join No. 10 Auburn and Illinois State Friday in a quad meet at Texas Women’s University.
It will be a homecoming for five Auburn gymnasts from the Lone Star State, especially Abby Milliet, who’s from Denton, the location of Friday’s meet.
“It will be fun to bring her back,” Auburn coach Jeff Graba said. “But it’s also a business trip.”
Senior Caitlin Atkinson is another native Texan who has found a home on the plains.
“I've really loved it,” Atkinson said. “I was excited to come to a small town and have that community feel. At first it was new and interesting, but once I was here for a couple weeks, the adjustment was pretty easy and pretty fun. I had always wanted to live in a smaller town.”
Many of Atkinson’s friends and family members will make the four-and-a-half-hour drive from Houston to Denton.
“It's a nice arena so I'm excited to go there. Just being in Texas is fun. It's my home,” she said. “It's kind of relaxing. Getting to compete where it all started is always fun. We've got a pretty good home base so we're going to have a lot of fans I think.”
“I thought the girls really excelled in the toughest environment they could have been in,” Graba said. “I was really excited with how the girls did. Now, we just need to take that and move forward.”
The injuries were a factor in Auburn’s third straight defeat, all to top 10 teams.
"I'm not really happy with where we are. I think we're very good,” Graba said. “Without the injuries at this last meet, I thought we would have probably hit what we are normally able to hit which means pretty close to a 197. I thought we were right on track for that. We would have beaten Arkansas in Arkansas which means that we would have held up under a lot of pressure.
“But in the end, that's not what counts. What counts is what you score (195.975). I'm not happy with where we are, and I don't think the girls are either,” Graba said. “I think we're a top 10 program and I do believe that our best is yet to come. So I really believe that we're about to gel."
Auburn’s next home meet is Feb. 12 against No. 4 Alabama at 7:30 p.m.