The 14th-ranked Auburn gymnastics team tumbled to victory in front of a sparse spring break crowd Friday night at Auburn Arena, defeating BYU 195.950-192.575. The meet closed out the regular season for the Tiger gymnasts and improved their record to 7-10.
Friday night was also the last home meet for seven Auburn seniors. Justine Foster, Kareen Kaveh, Laura Lane, Allison Sandusky, Kylie Shields, Kendall Schwartz and Leah Vining were recognized along with their parents for their commitment and dedication to the team for the past four years.
The vault has been a spot all season where Auburn has taken big steps on its landings. Friday, that same bug seemed to plague almost all the Tigers. Sandusky lead the team off with a 9.775, and Petrina Yokay followed with an identical score. Brittany Webster's big step on her landing cost her, and gave her a 9.675. Shields had a 9.7, also with a big step. Freshman Bri Guy had a nice solid vault for a score of 9.8, and Toi Garcia rounded out the line up with a 9.825. The team score was a 48.925, which is low for the Tigers, who have managed to score closer to 49 in recent meets.
Guy led the Tigers off on bars with a career-high score of 9.85. Megan Walker and Abby Habicht both followed with a 9.825. Yokay, whose routine boasts one of the most intricate bar release moves in gymnastics, had some trouble with her handstands and scored a 9.8, lower than her usual 9.9s. Sandusky came up big with a 9.9 before Shields, who is usually a top scorer for the team, had an uncharacteristic fall on her release move that resulted in a 9.225. The team score on bars was a 49.2 which is good, but again, the Tigers have scored better in previous weeks.
Auburn was well ahead of BYU at the half, and the coaches decided to sit Shields for the rest of the meet in order to keep her rested and fresh for next week's SEC Championships. This was a smart move, as the senior's talents will be in much higher demand against the stiff conference competition.
Yokay started the beam rotation by tying her season-high score of 9.85. She has been great in the lead-off position on beam for the Tigers, always hitting her routine. A team always wants its lead-off person on beam to be solid and consistent, and Yokay has done her job well all season. Car Kadous, who subbed in for Shields, had a couple minor balance checks but finished a good routine and earned a score of 9.6. Habicht and Walker both were rock solid and earned identical scores of 9.825. The score was a career-high for Walker, a freshman. Sandusky had a balance check on her side somersault and scored a 9.75. Guy finished the Tigers out with a routine that was dynamite until the dismount -- she had too much power and over-rotated her dismount, which caused her to fall. The fall resulted in a score of 9.3. As a team, Auburn compiled a score of 48.850 on the beam.
Floor was uncharacteristically low for the Tigers on Friday due to some landing problems and steps out of bounds. Kadous was up first and nailed all her tumbling, but the scores from the two judges were a point and a half apart -- a big discrepancy. She ended up with a 9.775. Lane came up short on two tumbling passes and stepped out of bounds, which cost her big and gave her a 9.375. Yokay, filling in for Shields, delivered a solid 9.725. Webster came through with a great routine and a score of 9.825. Garcia nailed her "Tiger Walk" routine for a score of 9.875. Guy had a misstep on her last tumbling pass, stepping out of bounds, and ended up with a 9.775. The team score on floor was a 48.975, which is low for the Tigers.
Guy took top honors on the vault, Sandusky took top honors on bars, Garcia won the floor exercise, and Yokay won the all-around title. As a team, the Tigers won all four events, as well as the overall meet.
Overall, the meet was good for the Tigers, but not great. There were a lot of big steps on landings, wobbles on beam, and steps out of bounds on floor. All of those things cost Auburn tenths, and all of those things were reflected in the scores. At this point, it's been a long season, and let's face it -- these girls have put their bodies through a lot. Fatigue catches up with, and it's easy to have an off night. While resting Shields was a smart move, her scores were definitely missed. If the team was going to have an off night then this was the night to have it, one week prior to the SEC Championships. The Tigers need to shake off the mistakes and focus on doing what they know they can do. They've got the talent and potential to do well next week.