'Team Beam' helps Auburn to big finish at SEC Championship
March 21, 2015
Lexus Demers celebrates with her Auburn teammates during the SEC Championships
By Charles Goldberg
DULUTH, Ga. -- Lexus Demers and Auburn finished their first appearance in the Southeastern Conference gymnastics championship the way they wanted.
The Tigers recorded the best score on the beam, their last event, going out on a happy note Saturday in the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
"We call ourselves the Beam Team. We're out there working hard every day," Demers said.
Auburn finished fourth overall, the best finish in 22 years in the SECs, and its team score of 196.925 was the best in school history at the SECs. Alabama won the event, followed by LSU and Florida.
Demers, Megan Walker and Abby Milliet tied for second with a score of 9.900 on the beam; and Auburn scored an event-best 49.400 before 8,758 fans. It was the final step before Auburn plays host to an NCAA Regional on April 4 in Auburn Arena. The Tigers will learn the regional field during the NCAA Regional Selection Show at 2 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.
Auburn's first appearance in the coveted SEC second session of the championships began on the floor, and finished strong on the beam, all before fans cheering in all directions during the four various routines going on at the same time.
"It's while you're going, before you're going, after you're going. You could barely hear anything," Walker said.
But Auburn settled down after opening on the floor.
"I was really excited we finished on beam the way we know we can. That's really good," said Auburn coach Jeff Graba. "You have to take something away from this meet going into post-season."
"This is a good prep for nationals," Walker said.
Graba said Auburn did well in its first foray into an SEC night sessions.
"I thought the girls did a really good job," he said. "We knew this environment would be tough. There was a lot of stress, a lot of energy, there's a lot to manage.
"We started a little shaky....But we finished really strong with one of better beam sets of the year. I couldn't be more proud."
The meet night session featured No. 2-ranked Florida, No. 3-ranked LSU, No. 5-ranked Alabama and No. 8-ranked Auburn. Graba said the Tigers proved they belonged.
"Absolutely, I think we proved it," Graba said. "We weren't sharp tonight, and we were right in the mix all the way to the very end. I really believe we just proved to everybody we belong here on a consistent basis. We can take a little bit away from this and get a little bit better."
Demers said Auburn was worthy of the night session.
"It's been a great year, and we've been training so hard, I really think we deserve to be in the night session and get that Top 4 finish," she said.
Demers had a team-high 9.900 on the vault. Caitlin Atkinson led the Tigers on the floor with a 9.875. Milliet and Atkinson had Auburn's best score on the bars with a 9.850.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:Follow @AUGoldMine