March 15, 2007
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The No. 13 Auburn gymnastics team (5-7, 1-5 SEC) will take on its 10th ranked opponent of the season as it hosts No. 3 Alabama (7-2, 4-2 SEC) at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
AU is coming off a weekend road trip in which it lost to Illinois, but defeated Illinois-Chicago behind a pair of school records. The vault team recorded a new school record with a 49.400, while Julie Dwyer broke her own Auburn all around record with a 39.650. This marks the second of three meetings scheduled for this season. Alabama took the first meeting earlier in the year, 197.475-195.900 to raise the series lead to 90-9.
"Alabama is a great team," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "We have to go out there and let it all hang out. There is no pressure on our kids unless they put it on themselves. If we can perform the way we did at Illinois-Chicago, then do the type of beam routines that we see everyday in the gym, the fourth rotation will be a lot of fun to watch."
The Tigers rank in the top-10 in two different categories, beam (sixth) and vault (ninth), and are also 14th on bars and floor. Individually, two AU gymnasts find themselves in the all around top-10. Junior Julie Dwyer moved into third in the country after a school record score of 39.650 last Sunday at UIC, while sophomore A.J. Mills is tied for 10th after a career best score of 39.450 at UIC.
In addition to the all around, Dwyer ranks nationally in each of the other four events. The Bloomington, Ind., native is third on beam, 12th on vault, 14th on floor and 25th on bars. So far this season, Dwyer has collected 21 individual titles-- five in the all around, seven on beam, four on vault , three on bars and two on floor, bringing her career total to 58.
Auburn will be without the services of two more gymnasts on Friday, as junior Karmen Pinckney and freshman all arounder Krissy Voss will be sidelined.
Alabama closed out its regular season home schedule with a win over fifth ranked UCLA. The Tide turned in its fourth 197 or better score of the season, going 197.225. The score was enough to jump Alabama over Stanford in the national rankings, putting the Tide at No. 3 going into this weekend's regular season finale at Auburn.
UA ranks in the top-10 in three of the four categories, including third on floor and vault and sixth on bars.
Friday will be Senior Night, as the Tigers honor their three seniors, Nicole Barnett, Jackie Smith and Shanna Somero.
"I think it will be a special night for those three," Thompson said. "They are great people who have done amazing things for Auburn both inside and outside of the gym."
The meet will also be an "All Auburn, All Orange" event, as fans are encouraged to wear orange in support of the Tigers. The "All Auburn, All Orange" program was established in 2004 to create unity and spirit among the Auburn student body, alumni, fans and student-athletes at events throughout the school year.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for youth (ages 2-18).