AUBURN — On a team with an Olympian and the Queen of Auburn gymnastics and a season built around returning to the Final Four for the second appearance in program history, Cassie Stevens has become a star in her own right. 

“I feel like coming into my senior year, I have a lot more, like confidence, a lot of experience. I've been through lots of different scenarios and situations. So I kind of have those under my belt to take moving forward,” said Stevens. “I just know myself, my gymnastics really well at this point. So I've been able to, like, manage it and take that and run with it this season.”

Stevens was a four-time state champion in the all-around in her home state of Arizona before coming to Auburn ahead of the 2020 season. She started immediately in the all-around and excelled during her first two seasons on the Plains, making the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2020. As Stevens excelled, COVID-19 ran roughshod over college athletics, ending her freshman season early and putting the sophomore campaign in front of limited crowds. 

In the summer following her sophomore season, everything changed when Suni Lee won Gold at the Olympics and joined Auburn gymnastics shortly after. An average attendance of 6,364 during Stevens’ freshman season exploded to complete sellouts last season, continuing this year. 

Lee’s own exploits have been well-documented as the Olympic champion became a national champion, and the Auburn team made history with an appearance in the Final Four. 

That season was full of historic moments, and few matched the meet with Florida in early March. Lee was masterful again, winning the all-around while scoring a 10 on beam, and Derrian Gobourne scored her first 10 ever in the highest scoring dual-meet in history. While Gobourne and Lee’s scores in the final rotation stood out, Stevens was as critical to the tie as anyone, scoring career-highs on vault, floor and in the all-around to help Auburn secure a tie in the historic meet. 

Stevens’ 9.975 on vault was a vital part of starting the meet off well, and the junior did not look back, scoring 39.675 in the all-around. Stevens’ team-high score on vault came from her nailing the Yurchenko 1.5, something she had been working on throughout her junior season. 

“It's been a lot of hard work and it's great when it finally pays off. It was honestly the best feeling in the world,” Stevens said following the Florida meet last season. “There's so much behind it and for it to finally happen was an incredible feeling. The best part was my team. They know I've been putting the work into it. For them to celebrate with me was really special.”

Stevens continued to grow with the team as they marched to the Final Four, and now, as one of the veteran leaders on this team, Stevens has continued to progress forward as the team looks to make another run. 

That run included an all-around title during the meet with NC State on January 27 and matching her career-high on the beam when Auburn traveled to Alabama in early February. 

As the season rolls along, Auburn head coach Jeff Graba is aware of where this team will have to be to make it back to the Final Four, and he knows the importance of Stevens in that equation. 

“I always believed Cassie is the star that nobody talks about,” Graba said. “People talk a lot about Suni, people talk a lot about Derrian and they talked a lot about Sophia for good reason. They're huge assets. But Cassie is always there. She does her job every night. She's right in the mix. She beats those people once in a while. And that's really, that's Auburn gymnastics. That's who we are.”

Stevens' stardom grows as Auburn continues to hit its stride, with two scores of 197.7 or above in each of the last two weeks, and the senior appreciates the words from her coach, even as she is focused on the next task in front of her.

“You probably shouldn't hear anyway, like every single day how great you are,” Stevens said. “But it means a lot when you do hear it.”

Stevens and the No. 5 Tigers travel to Columbia for a Sunday evening matchup with No. 16 Missouri. The meet between the Tigers and the Tigers will begin at 5 p.m. CST on the SEC Network.

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