AUBURN — Even with a non-conference week coming, and the Alabama and LSU meets on the horizon, No. 5 Auburn Gymnastics is remaining focused on the task in front of it as No. 20 NC State comes to town on Friday.
“We don't really, like, pay much attention to who we're going up against. We just want to do our thing, focus on us and do like, be better than we were before. I feel like that's kind of mentality,” said senior gymnast Cassie Stevens.
Stevens finished third in the all-around during Friday’s win over Arkansas, scoring 39.450, including a 9.925.
Stevens and the team are trying to build off of a 197.500 last week, the team’s highest score of the year, especially with SEC play picking up. The routines are set, so now the team is honing in on the finer deals.
“I feel like this week we're going to just kind of like taking a little bit of a step back from like full routines,” Stevens said. “We kind of know like, you can hit the routine, and working more on the finer details like the little things, the landings, the cast handstands, the form, all that.”
While Friday’s matchup is outside of the talented SEC, and before the Alabama and LSU meets, NC State is No. 23 in the country, coming off a tri-meet victory over George Washington and Pittsburgh. The Wolfpack are 2-2 with a season-high score of 196.650.
“Everybody's really good. Arkansas was one-tenth from us going into the final rotation, and they were ranked 23rd coming in,” said Auburn head coach Jeff Graba. “We don't put a lot of stock into that stuff. NC State has a shot at coming in here and knocking off an SEC team, they're gonna give us their best shot.”
The Tigers have said they are up for the challenge. One week removed from having their Final Four banner hung, Auburn will be back in front of its home crowd, which has quickly become a sellout dating back to the arrival of Suni Lee.
“It's everything to our girls,” Graba said. “They showed up here because they want to be in front of that. We have opposing teams that want to come here because it makes them better. I think we have the best gymnastics environment in the country. And it makes our team better because you know, who wouldn't want to compete in front of that?”
The Tigers and the Wolfpack will square off from Neville Arena at 7 p.m. CST, broadcasted live on SECNetwork+.
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