By Jeff Shearer
Two meets, two milestones for Auburn’s gymnastics team.
After earning a long-awaited victory over in-state rival Alabama two weeks ago, the Tigers followed with the highest road score (197.125) in program history last week at LSU.
The No. 8 Tigers return to Auburn Arena Friday for the first time since beating Alabama for a matchup with No. 16 Missouri at 7 p.m. on SEC Network+.
“I want the girls to approach this just like they approached the last one,” Auburn coach Jeff Graba said. “You have to approach with a little bit of an edge every team that’s coming in. Missouri’s a quality opponent. They’ve beaten Georgia already. They’re going to come in and force us to be really good. Our girls just need to be sharp about it.”
Graba said the Tigers were good, but not great, in the 197.825-197.125 loss to LSU.
“It’s the highest road score in history, and we’re all pretty frustrated,” Graba said. “We should take a lot of confidence from that, because I think the staff, when we’re coaching them, that’s what we believe we’re capable of, that we are a 197 team even on a bad night.”
Auburn’s gymnasts are looking to post a 197 for the third straight meet.
“We’re very satisfied with our 197s, but it definitely wasn’t our potential that we have,” freshman Taylor Krippner said.
“It definitely helps, hitting the 197s now, and hopefully we can keep the streak going, knowing we still have a lot to improve on,” sophomore Abby Milliet said.
Graba is looking for Auburn to be sharper, especially on landings.
“If we can be really good, we have a shot at knocking of quite a few people, so we better take some confidence from that,” he said.
Graba says he is still tinkering with Auburn’s lineup. Bars and beam are basically set, but vault and floor are still open and could remain that way leading up to the SEC Championships in March and NCAA Regionals in early April.
“We joke around, to me, it’s open combat on vault and floor. If you want in, you’ve got to earn it, even that one touch before the meet starts,” he said.
Auburn’s last two home meets – versus Florida and Alabama – were both sellouts.
“We’re still pushing. If this is a postseason philosophy, then this is an important week for us. I think we’ve executed at a high level when the pressure’s on,” Graba said. “We have a lot more work to do.”
“Our approach is no different than what we have been doing. No matter who is our opponent, whether it be No. 1 Florida or someone else, it doesn’t really matter,” Milliet said. “We have to keep pushing. Keep doing what we always do and do our best. Every score matters.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer