AUBURN — Jungle Village was already populated with hundreds of people in tents set up yesterday, but there was still a packed house on hand to witness another top-10 matchup for Auburn gymnastics. The No. 15 Tigers set a season-high on the floor and bars on the way to a 197.750 team score, defeating No. 9 LSU.
The Tiger Bowl of gymnastics kicked off with Auburn on vault. Sophia Groth led off with a 9.725, followed by a solid 9.8 from Sara Hubbard. Derrian Gobourne set a high for the Tigers, sticking a 9.925. Suni Lee took a step on her vault, scoring a 9.850. Auburn was anchored by a pair of 9.875s from Cassie Stevens and Olivia Hollingsworth.
With a slim half-tenth lead, Auburn headed to bars. LSU struggled out of the gate on bars, but finished strong with a 9.95 from Haleigh Bryant.
A 9.825 from Hollingsworth was followed by a slip-up from Gabbie McLaughlin, earning the junior a 9.625. Sophia Groth continued her return to form, sticking a 9.925 while Stevens landed a 9.9. Gobourne scored a 9.85 and Suni Lee earned her ninth perfect 10 of her Auburn career.
Auburn took an extended 98.825-98.625 lead to the third rotation, and this is when the tide turned in favor of the Bayou Bengals. Auburn struggled right out of the gate with a fall from Hollingsworth giving her a 9.325. Groth wobbled in the second routine and took a big step on her landing, finishing with a 9.750 while LSU caught up on floor. Auburn rallied behind a 9.850 from Stevens and a 9.825 from Aria Brusch, which was capped off by a 9.9 for McLaughlin and another strong 9.95 for Suni Lee.
LSU made up significant ground on the floor, with four scores of 9.85 or above, leading to a slim 148.100-148.075 margin in favor of Auburn as each team headed to the fourth and final rotation.
LSU was great on beam, setting a season-high score of 49.425 behind more brilliance from Haleigh Bryant, who scored a 9.9, and Aleah Finnegan, whose 9.95 secured her the all-around title. Finnegan also nailed a perfect 10 on vault.
It was a solid end to the night for LSU, but Auburn was masterful on the floor. A buzz filled the arena as the rest of the student section joined the Gymnasties in standing as Aria Brusch kicked things off with a solid 9.85 out of the gate. Auburn would drop that score as all five remaining gymnasts scored a 9.9 or above. Groth, Hollingsworth and Stevens all scored 9.9s, making way for Lee and Gobourne to wrap things up. The duo delivered again, scoring 9.975s in the final rotation and landing a win for the Tigers.
The Tigers will now have a nine day break before they hit the road for a meet with the Tigers of No. 15 Missouri. The Top-25 matchup in Columbia is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. CST on February 19. The meet will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
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