March 27, 2008
Auburn, Ala. - The Auburn Gymnastics team travels to Duluth, Ga., Friday to prepare for the SEC Gymnastics Championship which will be held Saturday, March 29, at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
"We are glad that Saturday's meet is close enough for all of our fans in Atlanta to come out and support us," said Auburn head coach Jeff Thompson. "We are going to do something new this year; in the coaches' meeting we usually bring an athlete to do the draw, and then you go back and tell your team what your draw is. This year we are going to do the draw with all the teams there in between the practice sessions."
Competition begins on Saturday at 4 p.m. On Friday the Tigers will draw for their rotation during Saturday's meet. Auburn will hold its practice session from 3:30-5:15 p.m., ET, after the draw.
This is Auburn's 23rd trip to the SEC Championship, having attended every year since 1986. This marks the third year that the championships have been held in Duluth.
The Tigers will look to Senior Julie Dwyer, who is ranked No. 9 by GymInfo, to lead them on the beam. Dwyer is ranked as the No. 2 gymnast on beam.
Auburn will also look to all-arounders Lindsey Puckett and A.J. Mills to have solid performances Saturday. Puckett is tied for No. 13 in the all-around and No. 4 on beam. Puckett is also ranked No. 17 on vault. Mills is ranked No. 25 in the all-around and tied for no. 19 on beam.
"Any of our all-arounders have a shot at making the All-SEC team in the all-around if they are consistent," Thompson said. "Julie Dwyer has a shot. Lindsey Puckett, A.J. Mills and Dwyer all have a shot at that on balance beam."
Auburn is ranked as the No. 4 beam team in the nation. Auburn is tied at No. 10 on vault, tied at No. 12 on floor and ranked at No. 16 on bars.
Of the seven SEC schools fielding gymnastics squads, six of those teams are ranked in the top 15 in the country. Of those six, four are ranked in the top six. Georgia is the No. 1 team in the nation with a regional qualifying score of 197.305. Florida is ranked at No. 3 followed by LSU and Alabama at No. 5 and No. 6. Arkansas sits above Auburn at No. 11. Kentucky is ranked at No. 20.
Including Auburn's top three gymnasts, 11 SEC gymnasts are ranked in the top 25 of the all-around. At least one SEC gymnast is in the top-three of all four events, and an SEC gymnast is ranked No. 1 on two events.
Following Saturday's competition, college gymnastics teams around the nation will patiently await the announcement of regional site placement, which will be made at 4 p.m., ET, on Monday, March 31. The six regional hosts are Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Oregon State and Penn State.
The top 18 teams in the country are seeded based on their ranking. The other 36 teams are seeded based on their regions. The top two teams from each of those sites will advance to the NCAA Championships on April 24, in Athens, Ga.