No. 11 Auburn Gymnastics Treks to Seattle for NCAA West Regional
April 2, 2009
The No. 11 Auburn gymnastics team (8-9, 3-3 SEC) will head to Seattle, Wash., to compete in the NCAA West Regional hosted by the University of Washington on April 4. Action in the Bank of America Arena will start at 8 p.m. CT. Live video and stats from the meet will be available by clicking here.
Head coach Jeff Thompson is guiding Auburn into regional action for the seventh-consecutive season. For the second-straight year the Tigers have received the No. 2 seed. Last year's No. 2 seed in the NCAA Central Region was the first and highest of the program's history.
Also earning a spot in the NCAA West Regional is top-seed and second-ranked Utah, No. 14 Illinois, No. 19 Boise State, Washington and San Jose State.
"We're going to go out there and give it our best shot," Thompson said. "We've been the most consistent team in the country this year and if we go out there and do exactly that, we're going to be in good shape."
To the Tigers advantage, Saturday's rotation will be the same as the Southeastern Conference Championship. Auburn will open the meet on bars and move to beam in the second rotation, followed with a bye in the third rotation. The Tigers will then take to their two strongest events to close out the night, taking to floor in the fourth rotation and concluding action on vault. The sixth and final rotation will be a bye.
"We're excited that we have the exact same rotation schedule as we did at the SEC Championship," Thompson said. "In the last rotation, we'll do six vaults by the time that Illinois does two beam routines, so we will know if we have it sealed or what they have to do to pass us or in order for us to hold on. The pressure is going to be on them on beam. Utah, the No. 1 seed, will do the exact same thing, only one rotation later.
"If we go out there and have a really great meet, we can really put the pressure on the Nos. 1 and 3 seed because they both have to finish on balance beam," Thompson explained. "This year's team isn't a team that is going to let the scores or the current placement affect what they do. They've been really good about that all year. Some kids get really nervous when they know how close it is and this team has been able to handle it."
Auburn is coming off of a program-best 196.350 showing at the SEC Championship to finish fifth. It was the eighth time this season that the Tigers have scored a 196 or higher to mark a milestone in the program's history. During the 2003 and 2004 seasons Thompson's squad only reached 196 or higher six times.
GymInfo lists the Tigers as the 11th-ranked team with a RQS of 196.410 and are ranked eighth on floor (49.250), 10th on vault (49.190) and 11th on beam (49.065) and bars (49.105). Individually, senior Lindsey Puckett is listed as the nation's No. 5 all-arounder and fellow senior A.J. Mills is tied for 10th. Puckett is tied for sixth on vault and on floor. Mills appears in the top 25 on bars and beam.
Auburn's best finish in a regional during the current seven-year stretch came in 2003 when the Tigers placed second in the NCAA Central Region with a 196.350 to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The 196.350 is also the highest score that an Auburn team has recorded in regional competition.
The top-two teams in each of the six regions will advance to the NCAA Championships at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Neb., April 16-18. Individuals can qualify for nationals with a first- or second-place finish on an event.
Looking at the NCAA West Region
Seeded third is No. 14 Illinois (196.015 RQS). Head coach Bob Starkall's Fighting Illini enters regional action after a runner-up finish at the Big 10 Championship with a season-high score of 196.750. A pair of Illinois gymnasts captured event titles, with Kelsey Joannides winning the vault title with a 9.925 and Sarah Schmidt's 9.95 won her the floor crown.
Illinois, who has scored a 196 or higher three times this season, ranks 19th on vault (49.085), 17th on bars (48.955), 13th on beam (49.040) and 15th on floor (49.140).
Head coach Tina Bird's Boise State team is ranked 19th nationally with a 195.590 and is listed 21st on vault (49.065), 22nd on bars (48.870), 26th on beam (48.695) and 18th on floor (49.085). The Broncos won their second-straight Western Athletic Conference crown with a season-high score of 196.525. Saniece Craft captured the vault title with a 9.925 and Kelsey Lang won beam on a 9.95.
Fifth-seeded Washington ranks 33rd nationally with a 194.810 RQS. Head coach Joanne Bowers' Huskies rank 23rd on vault (49.015), 34th on bars (48.760), 28th on beam (48.660) and 33rd on floor (48.865). Ashley Houghting is the only top-10 ranked gymnast, tied for eighth on vault (9.915). Washington, whose season-high score is 196.000, placed fourth at the Pac-10 Championship with a 194.375.
San Jose State, the sixth seed, is ranked 34th nationally with a 194.774 RQS. Head coach Wayne Wright's team is ranked 35th on vault (48.860), 26th on bars (48.815), 43rd on beam (48.185) and 23rd on floor (49.025). The Spartans are coming off of a fourth-place finish at the WAC Championship with a 194.875. Thomasina Wallace was the floor champ with a 9.9 and she also garnered WAC Freshman of the Year accolades. San Jose State's season-high score was a 195.400 at Seattle Pacific.
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