AUBURN, Ala. -- The No. 23 Auburn gymnastics team will host No. 17 Missouri Friday, Jan. 12, in the team's SEC and home opener. The two Tiger squads will go head-to-head at 7 p.m. CT in Auburn Arena and the meet will be streamed on SEC Network+.
"Missouri was a Top 20 team last year and again this year so it's going to be a tough meet," head coach Jeff Graba said. "They beat us last year at their place so we'd like to return the favor and I'd love our crowd to help us. One of the cool things about Auburn is that we get so much support from the students and our fans in general and we're looking forward to another big and loud crowd Friday. We're very excited to showcase both our returners and our newcomers to our fans."
It's "Youth Night" Friday in Auburn Arena with a Moana theme! Kids will receive light up leis and light up flower headbands (while supplies last). The Kid Zone will be active with a balloon artist, Gifn photo booth, craft station, and more.
In addition, vouchers for one free general admission are out and about in the Auburn/Opelika area and can be found at the following locations -- Chicken Salad Chick (Auburn), Chick-Fil-A (Auburn & Opelika), Momma G's (Magnolia, Longleaf, and Thatch), Alumni Hall (Auburn & Opelika) and the AU Bookstore.
Fans are also able to purchase tickets at AUBTix.com. General Admission tickets are available for $6, while Reserved are $8. Tickets for groups of 15 or more are $3 apiece. Fans are encouraged to arrive before 6:45 p.m. CT and to take advantage of Auburn's "Print-at-Home" ticket feature to avoid lines at the ticket office.
One shuttle will bring spectators from the X Lot to Auburn Arena and back. The shuttle will begin picking up at the X Lot beginning at 5 p.m. CT and run continuously until 10 p.m. CT, reversing its route at 8 p.m. CT. The X Lot is located at War Eagle Way and Donahue Drive. Fans will be dropped off at the transit stop in front of the arena suites.
In addition, parking in S Lot is available for ticket holders with a valid ticket to Friday's meet, anyone who is a Tigers Unlimited member with a valid membership card, and Individuals possessing a meet credential. Parking will be available while spots remain open.
IN THE RANKINGS
The Auburn gymnastics team kicks off its home schedule this week as the No. 23 team in the RoadtoNationals.com weekly rankings after the season-opening meet in Arizona Saturday.
"We had a good meet Saturday and checked all the boxes that we wanted to accomplish," head coach Jeff Graba said. "I'm excited to continue the improvement with this team and we're right on schedule for our expectations."
LSU is No. 1, while Utah, Central Michigan, UCLA, and Michigan are in spots 2-5. Kentucky stands at No. 6, Florida at No. 7, Alabama is ranked ninth, and Arkansas is 11th. A handful of typical Top 25 teams did not compete in the season-opening weekend, including Oklahoma, Georgia, and Missouri.
The Missouri Tigers were ranked No. 17 in the NACGC/W preseason poll, marking the highest preseason ranking for the program since 2011.
The 2018 Tigers return over 94 percent of their routines from 2017. In addition, the squad will have 2016 SEC Freshman of the Year Morgan Porter back in the lineup after suffering from injury last year.
Junior Britney Ward returns after finishing in the Top 10 last year with an RQS of 9.915 on vault and a 9.925 on beam. In addition, senior Kennedi Harris concluded the 2017 regular season in a tie for 20th on floor with an RQS of 9.910.
AUBURN/MIZZOU SERIES HISTORY
Auburn holds a 25-8 record vs. Mizzou all time and is 9-1 in the last 10 meetings. AU has been successful on the Plains and at neutral sites vs. Missouri, holding an 18-0 mark. That includes a 6-0 record on the Plains.
The two Tiger squads met in Columbia last year with MU taking a 197.200-195.350 victory over AU. Auburn's last regular season victory came at home in 2016 as the team bested Mizzou, 197.200-196.625.
Depth is the name of the game for the Tigers in 2018 as each event is expected to be at least 10 gymnasts deep. The tentative lineup for Friday's meet features four juniors, three sophomores, and four freshmen. (Lineups are subject to change prior to the meet)
Sophomore Katie Becker will once again represent the Tigers in the all-around. The Boone, N.C., product competed in the all-around last week at the ASU quad meet after competing for the Tigers in the category at the 2017 NCAA Championship as a freshman.
The first event has the Tigers on vault with a lineup that is made up of two freshmen, two juniors, and two sophomores. Newcomer Drew Watson highlights the crew as she took home the event title last week in her first collegiate meet, scoring a 9.875. Classmate Jada Glenn picked up a 9.8 for Auburn in the event. Becker and fellow sophomore Gracie Day will be joined by juniors Taylor Krippner and A'Miracal Phillips.
Bars feature an experienced group starting with juniors Samantha Cerio and Abby Milliet. Cerio took home the event tilte last week with a 9.9, while Milliet holds a career-high 9.95 under her belt. Becker and Day will be joined by classmate Kendal Moss. Watson will make her final appearance of the evening in the second slot of the event after picking up a 9.8 in Arizona.
The team will move to beam in the third rotation where the squad will feature a lineup full of juniors and sophomores. Freshman Allie Riddle earned a spot in the leadoff, while Becker, Cerio and redshirt sophomore Emma Slappey will hold down the middle of the lineup. Milliet is set to follow with junior Taylor Krippner closing out in the anchor spot.
The fourth and final rotation will have Auburn go on floor. Becker will kick things off before freshman Ashley Smith follows in her second career start. Cerio, Day, Slappey, and Milliet will all display their routines for the Tigers as well.
Auburn continues its SEC slate, traveling to rival and nationally-ranked Georgia next Friday, Jan. 19. The Tigers and the Bulldogs will square off at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.
|Auburn's Projected Lineup|
|1. Katie Becker||1. Katie Becker||1. Allie Riddle||1. Katie Becker|
|2. A'Miracal Phillips||2. Drew Watson||2. Katie Becker||2. Ashley Smith|
|3. Taylor Krippner||3. Kendal Moss||3. Samantha Cerio||3. Samantha Cerio|
|4. Drew Watson||4. Samantha Cerio||4. Emma Slappey||4. Gracie Day|
|5. Gracie Day||5. Gracie Day||5. Abby Milliet||5. Emma Slappey|
|6. Jada Glenn||6. Abby Milliet||6. Taylor Krippner||6. Abby Milliet|
|Alt: Ashley Smith||Alt: Ashley Smith||Alt: Meredith Sylvia||Alt: Skyler Sheppard|