April 19, 2012
DULUTH, Ga. – Auburn gymasts Kylie Shields and Bri Guy take up the tough task of winning an in individual national championship on Friday night at the Gwinnett Arena when the opening day of competition at the 2012 NCAA Gymnastics Championships begins.
“It’s obviously a little more difficult for an individual, than a team,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. “For those that watched our regional, we rotated with an individual. The team goes and there’s a lot of energy, then the individual goes at the end. There isn’t as much energy. I think it’s very difficult to bring the energy as an individual. You have to stay focused. It’s a long couple of days. We came up Wednesday to get acclimated. Thursday we have meetings. They are going to be separated and with other teams, so they have a completely foreign warm up that we have been trying to get them ready for in practice. It’s a huge honor for the program to have people there. We want Kylie to finish of her career right and have some fun with it. Obviously, for Bri it will hopefully be good for our team in the future to have someone that knows what it’s like on the national championship stage.”
Both Shields (vault) and Guy (all-around) qualified for the meet with their top performances at the NCAA Auburn Regional on April 7. The trip is the second in as many years for the senior Shields, but the first for the freshman Guy.
The meet will be quite different for the duo. Each will compete separately as individuals, Guy with LSU and Shields with Florida.
“Typically, it is an extremely difficult experience for an individual because you don’t have your team to confide in and draw strength from,” Graba said. “Also, it’s the very best of the best from across the country. You aren’t going to look up and see anyone that shouldn’t be there. Every single person that is there is an extremely talented athlete at the top of her game. It’s definitely a mental challenge for 2-3-4 days. I think it’s good that Kylie has been through it. She struggled with the mental game last year and came out stronger because of it. For that reason, I think it will help Bri to have Kylie there.”
Both will compete in the first of two sessions which begins at 11 a.m. CT on Friday. Should either place in the top four of her respective competitions, she would move on to the event finals on Friday. The top four finishers are named first team All-Americans, while the individuals that finish in places five through eight are named second team All-Americans.
Event finals are scheduled for 12 p.m. CT on Sunday. Live stats and video of all events are available at the links above. For the latest on Auburn gymnastics, follow @AUGymnastics on Twitter.