March 26, 2012
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AUBURN - The Road to Duluth, Ga. will begin in Auburn, Ala., for six teams as Auburn University hosts the NCAA Gymnastics Regional Championship at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 7. Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon State and West Virginia, along with selected individuals, will battle in Auburn Arena for spots at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, April 20-22 in Duluth, Ga.
Tickets are available online at AUBTix.com and by calling 1-855-AUB-2010 for the NCAA Regional Championship. Adult tickets are $10 while youth and college student tickets are $5. All seats for the meet are general admission.
Auburn was selected as one of six regional sites around the country, joining Champaign, Ill., Fayetteville, Ark., Raleigh, N.C., Salt Lake City, Utah and Seattle, Wash. It marks the first post-season gymnastics meet for the Tigers to host since hosting the NCAA Championships in 2003.
"Three of the teams have been super six teams, teams at the final night that have a chance of winning a national championship," said Auburn head coach Jeff Graba. "This will be the highest level meet that Auburn fans will see in a couple of years. You're going to see not just us out there, you're going to see Georgia, Oregon State, Michigan, Michigan State. It's going to be a fun meet, very high level gymnastics and probably a pretty tight competition all the way until the end."
Six teams, five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event (who has a minimum Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 9.4) were named to each of the six predetermined host sites.
Georgia enters the meet as the top seed. The Bulldogs are ranked sixth in the country and are coming off a third-place finish at the Southeastern Conference Championship. Oregon State will be making the trip out from Corvallis, Ore., as the No. 2 seed. The Beavers are ranked seventh in the country after placing third at the PAC-12 Championship.
Auburn, ranked 18th in the country, is the No. 3 seed for the meet. The Tigers posted the second-best score in school history, a 196.875, earlier this season against Florida. The No. 4 seed is Big Ten member Michigan. The Wolverines are ranked 21st in the nation and are coming off a fourth-place showing at the Big Ten Championships.
Rounding out the team entrants are West Virginia and Michigan State, seeded fifth and sixth, respectively. The Mountaineers won the East Atlantic Gymnastics League while the Spartans were eighth at the Big Ten Championships.
Along with the team competition, several individuals were invited to the NCAA Auburn Regional. All-Around competitors are Nicole Allen, Ball State; Taylor Zondervan, Western Michigan; Cepeda Carter, Western Michigan; Megan Harrington, Bowling Green; Gina Locigno, Bowling Green and alternate Jessica Lieblich, Centenary (La.).
Individual event specialists invited to the meet are Danielle Wishart, Bowling Green (vault); Lauren Bledsoe, Western Michigan (vault alternate); Caroline O'Brien, Western Michigan (uneven bars); Julie Cotter, Ball State (uneven bars alternate); Jamilah Ali, Bowling Green (balance beam); Ciara Maradiaga, Centenary (La.) (balance beam alternate); Lauren Bledsoe, Western Michigan (floor exercise) and Danielle Wishart, Bowling Green (floor exercise alternate).
The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Duluth, Ga., April 20-22, hosted by the Gwinnett Center and Georgia Tech.
In addition, the event winners at each regional site will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around qualifier.
Live stats and a free live video Webcast of the meet will be available at AuburnTigers.com. Follow Auburn Gymnastics on Twitter @AUGymnastics for information and updates.