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Circle your calendar: Auburn gymnasts have plans in NCAAs
April 2, 2015

Auburn hopes to keep its season going beyond this weekend's NCAA Regional

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- Megan Walker's clock as an Auburn athlete is running down, but the senior gymnast has no plans to stop it at Saturday's NCAA Regional in Auburn Arena.

She has the NCAA Championships circled on her calendar.

"All of us have just said that there's three more weeks," Walker says. "My body has to make it three more weeks until after event finals at nationals. I have to acknowledge the very small chance that Saturday could be my last night."

But, Walker said, "we already told Jeff we're coming in on Monday" to prepare for the NCAAs.

Hurry up, already. "I feel like the week has been the longest week ever."

Auburn gymnastics coach Jeff Graba would welcome a chance for his Tigers to keep competing. So would Walker and Auburn's five other seniors who want to keep their college careers going. Auburn would need to finish first or second in the regional that begins at 6 p.m. to advance to the nationals. Auburn is the No. 2 seed in its regional.  Old foe Alabama is the No. 1 seed. Also competing will be hen Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland and George Washington.  
The top two teams in each of the six regionals will qualify for the NCAA Championship in Fort Worth on April 17-19.

Walker says competing in Auburn Arena is an advantage.

"It's equipment that we know and it's an atmosphere we know," she said. "Some things that people don't think about is when I'm on bars and swinging up, if it's a different arena the lights are different and it could mess with whether or not I'm catching the bar. Knowing exactly where I'm going to be and how everything is going to look is an advantage, obviously. Having our home fans that will be wonderful."

Auburn has already been on the big stage in the last two weeks after qualifying for the coveted night session in the SEC Championship. The Tigers finished fourth there, closing out on a high note by winning on the beam.

Alabama won the SEC title. Auburn welcomes another opportunity to compete against the Tide.

"We had been looking at it, kind of expecting them to be in our regional," said gymnast Caitlin Atkinson. "I'm excited because it's another chance to go against Alabama. 

"We compete well against them and I love competing against SEC teams because it brings the best out of us. I'm excited to compete against them for the fourth time this season and we're looking for two more times after this."

The clock is running, even for a second-team All-American.

"I'm the kind of person that it's never good enough," Walker said. "But, obviously, it's an honor. That will be something to put on my resume' in life...when I have to go do real life. That's coming, coming sooner than I want it to."

The Auburn regional: Alabama is the top seed with a Regional Qualifying Score of 197.490. Auburn is second at 197.047, Minnesota has a 196.450; Iowa has a 195.790; Maryland has a 195.505; and George Washington has a 195.490.

General admission tickets are $5 and reserved tickets are $8. Tickets and can be ordered online through the Auburn ticket office.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twittter:



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