With Derrian Gobourne not competing on the floor, and Suni Lee competing in just two of four events, it was a rest night for the Auburn Tigers as they took on Missouri. On a night when Auburn was testing its depth, the No. 5 team in the nation struggled without its stars, posting its first sub-197 score of the season. Missouri got the win in front of the biggest crowd in program history, scoring 197.450 while Auburn trailed behind at 196.550.
“We came in knowing we had to rest people. It’s that time of year, plus we’re pretty beat up,” Auburn coach Jeff Graba said. “We wanted to give some new people some opportunities. I thought, for the most part, we handled ourselves pretty well. I thought we got better tonight.”
It started like all dual road meets, with Auburn on bars while the hometown Tigers kicked off the top 20 meet on vault.
Olivia Hollingsworth started things off with a 9.775, which was continued by a solid 9.825 from Gabby McLaughlin. Adeline Sabados got just her second bars routine of the season, scoring a 9.775 for the Tigers. Sophia Groth scored a 9.75 in the event, the dropped score for Auburn, while Derrian Gobourne and Suni Lee wrapped things up with scores of 9.875 and 9.95, respectively. The 49.200 in the event was a season-low for the Tigers and not the last time that would occur for Auburn during the meet.
Onto vault, it was another rough rotation for the Tigers, who were without Lee. Auburn’s 49.025 was another season-low, as the Tigers had just two gymnasts score above a 9.8, along with a dropped 9.6 from Sabados.
Trailing 98.650-98.225, Auburn headed to its best event, the floor, as the team looked to build on the season-high score from last week. Auburn would be without its two best floor competitors as head coach Jeff Graba revealed that Lee and Gobourne would not compete in the event, giving the opportunities to less experienced gymnasts.
Sara Hubbard kicked things off with her first floor routine of the season, but the sophomore gymnast went out of bounds on her first pass, earning a 9.575 for the routine. Auburn bounced back from another rocky start with a solid 9.875 from Aria Brusch as well as a 9.825 from Gabby McLaughlin. Groth and Hollingsworth scored back-to-back 9.9s, and Cassie Stevens anchored the rotation with a 9.875, giving Auburn its best rotation score of the contest.
Trailing by .250, Auburn went to beam for the night's final event. Hollingsworth started things off for the Tigers, and the junior gymnast struggled to keep her balance, scoring a 9.425. For the second rotation in a row, Auburn bounced back behind another 9.875 from Aria Brusch, which was followed by a solid 9.9 for Cassie Stevens. Groth stuck a 9.875 on beam, giving her the all-around title for the night. McLaughlin rounded out her night with a 9.85 in the event, and Suni Lee, after two rotations off, fell off the beam and scored a 9.45.
“We showed our nerves, and I think some of our veterans tried to do too much, but I was really happy with the last two events,” Graba said. “I felt like they kept their heads on straight, tried to stay in the game. They didn’t turn tail and run.”
Auburn will need the extra rest as they prepare for a quick turnaround this week. The No. 5 Tigers will host No. 19 Georgia in another edition of Friday Night Heights, with the meet beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.
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