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Caitlin Atkinson's all-around is best in Auburn history
March 8, 2015

Auburn's Caitlin Atkinson had reason to celebrate Sunday at Elevate the Stage meet

By Charles Goldberg

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Caitlin Atkinson's competitive spirit told her to keep going. Her coach told her she needed a break.

Her coach won that midseason argument, and but now all sides seem to be on the winning side. The Auburn gymnast, refreshed from the break, recorded the best all-around score in Auburn history for the second time in 10 days Sunday. She helped Auburn almost beat Alabama for the first time since the 1970s in the Elevate the Stage meet at Legacy Arena.

Atkinson scored a 39.750 to win the all-around title. Auburn and Alabama were tied after the third rotation, before Alabama won 197.200 to 197.025.

"She's phenomenal," said Auburn coach Jeff Graba. "Taking that two weeks off was obviously the right thing to do. She's got legs, she's setting records.

"This team, and her, seems like they don't like their own records because they keep breaking those as well."

The meet pitting No. 9 Auburn against No. 6 Alabama had the drama heading into the final routine. Atkinson delivered there, too, scoring a team-best 9.925 on the beam. The fans took sides, of course, and that suited Atkinson just fine.

"'OK, it's pumping me up. It's getting me ready to go,'" Atkinson remembered.

Afterwards, Atkinson conceded she and Auburn benefitted from the rest.

"It was a struggle for me because I had been in all-around for every meet since I had been here. To let other people get a chance to step up is really good," she said.

She said the meet showed "how hard I've been working, and what I can do and what I've been training all year for."

Auburn's 197.025 was a rebound performance for Auburn, which scored a 196.325 at Kentucky two nights before.

"It wasn't our strongest meet, so it was good to bounce back like this," Atkinson said.

By the time they hit Birmingham, the Tigers were "just excited, we were energetic and we were here to have fun, and that's what we did. We had fun celebrating, stick landings... and it showed in our scores."

Auburn will play host to North Carolina at 7 p.m. Friday in Auburn Arena, the last stop before the SEC Championship in Duluth, Ga., on March 21.

"I think we're proving to ourselves we can compete with anybody in the country," Graba said.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter:



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