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AU GYMNASTICS

Auburn gymnastics moves to No. 7 with two road scores

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Auburn Gymnastics preview meet

Cassie Stevens finishes her vault routine. Auburn gymnastics preview meet on Friday, Dec. 16 in Neville Arena.

Ahead of the first home meet of the season Friday, the Auburn gymnastics team moved to No. 7 in the country and still stands as the second-best team in scoring in the SEC.

After laying down the nation’s fifth-best score in the opener in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, Auburn now has the seventh-best scoring average after a dual loss last Friday at No. 2 Florida.

Auburn ranks third nationally on vault, is tied for sixth on bars and stands alone at seventh on both beam and floor.

Auburn head coach Jeff Graba points out, though, that both Auburn’s scores have come on road equipment while many other top 10 teams have had home meets. Indeed, of the six teams ahead of Auburn in scoring, only top-ranked Oklahoma is like Auburn in that it hasn’t had a home meet yet.

“It’s great to see that we can still be ranked so high after two road meets,” Graba said in a release from Auburn. “Most of our competitors have been at home at least once so far this year. Being good on the road is important to us, so the ranking means a lot in that respect.”

No. 7 Auburn hosts No. 25 Arkansas at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Neville Arena. The meet will be televised on SEC Network. The meet is sold out.

It’ll mark the regular-season return to Neville Arena for Olympic champion Suni Lee, who after two weeks is ranked No. 5 individually in the all-around. She won the all-around at the Super 16 in Las Vegas in the opening week, but in a hostile environment at Florida, she was upset in the all-around standings by fellow 2024 Olympics hopeful Leanne Wong — as was Florida’s record-breaking All-American teammate Trinity Thomas. Florida fans celebrated perfect 10’s during two of Lee’s four routines, creating an unusually hostile environment for the superstar back for her second and final season.

Lee is still in a tie for No. 3 individually on beam. She’s tied for 10th on bars and is just outside the nation’s top 10 on vault, tied for 11th.

Auburn fifth-year standout Derrian Gobourne is tied for fourth on vault and is tied for seventh on floor.

The national scoring rankings are compiled each week by RoadToNationals.com. Unlike other sports, the NCAA gymnastics world uses rankings based on scoring rather than polls with votes.

Later in the season, each team’s postseason ranking will be determined by their National Qualifying Score, which is calculated by taking six top scores from the season with three of those having to be recorded away from home. In this way, the NCAA weighs more heavily scores recorded away from home thrown down on unfamiliar equipment, making Auburn’s first two scores favorable outings. Auburn’s 197.350 recorded in Las Vegas would’ve factored into Auburn’s NQS last season.

Auburn has four more such away-from-home meets left on the schedule, including road trips to Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky, plus the neutral-site SEC Championship meet in Duluth, Ga., which will also count as an away score.

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