March 4, 2010
AUBURN- The No. 16 Auburn gymnastics team (2-5, 2-4 SEC) will host the No. 19 Denver Pioneers (15-5) Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m. from Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, in what will be the final gymnastics meet in the coliseum's history. The meet will also serve as Senior Night for Auburn's Carmen Nelms and Krissy Voss.
The Tigers will also welcome back 30 alumnae for the meet. Guests will include former greats such as JeAnne Piercy-Adams, the first Auburn gymnastics scholarship recipient (1974-'78), longtime head coach Robert Dillard ('85-'99), as well as one of the most decorated gymnasts in program history, Julie Dywer ('04-'08).
"We have a lot of great memories in the coliseum, but we're also ready to see her go," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "It's really exciting to know that we're moving across the street next season with all the amenities that we will have at the new Auburn Arena."
Friday's meet marks the third all-time meeting between the Pioneers and Tigers, with Denver holding a 2-1 advantage. Denver defeated the Tigers in the first meeting coming in 2005 at the Masters Classic in Lincoln, Neb. 194.450-194.050. Denver and Auburn squared off twice in 2008, with Auburn taking the regular season meeting 196.600-196.575 in Denver. However, in postseason action the Pioneers defeated Auburn 195.775-195.150 at the NCAA Regional meet in State College, Pa.
"Denver is a very good team. They're rated in the top 25 on all-four events, and we're not due to our early season performance, but we're performing as a top 15 team on floor now. On beam we expect to go to the third rotation and get away clean and then go to floor and really show off and cap off a great Senior Night," Thompson said.
Denver, ranked No. 19 with a 194.945 RQS and a season-high score of 195.700, will enter Friday's showdown after a third place finish at the Master's Classic Feb. 28 in Lincoln, Neb. The four-way meet featured four nationally-ranked opponents, as No. 11 Nebraska won the meet with a 196.425. No 20 Arizona was second with a 194.700, while No. 25 West Virginia scored a 192.975 to come in fourth.
Denver features a pair of highly ranked all-around competitors in sophomore Brianna Artemev and senior Kelly Hennigan. Each are ranked in the top 30 in the national rankings as Artemev is 21st (39.125) and Hennigan is 26th (39.025).
Hennigan is 45th on vault (9.825), 36th on bars (9.820) and 58th on beam with a 9.770 average, while Artemev is 61st with a 9.810 on vault, 36th on bars (9.820), and 33rd on floor with a 9.835. Other top gymnasts making the trip for the Pioneers will be junior Taylor Sanford who is 47th on beam (9.790) and junior Kristina Coccia who is 28th with a (9.845).
In event-by-event rankings, the Pioneers are ranked 22nd on both vault (48.875) and bars (48.765). On beam, DU is 19th with a 48.700 and 17th with a 48.930 RQS on floor.
Live stats and video for Friday's meet can be accessed via AuburnTigers.com, while live updates can be found by following AU_Gymnastics on Twitter.