Skyler Sheppard

The No. 13 Auburn gymnastics team will look to bounce back from a close loss to LSU on the road when they host No. 19 Missouri on Friday inside the friendly confines of Auburn Arena. 

Auburn narrowly dropped the contest against LSU, scoring196.575-196.275, bringing the Tigers' record to 1-1 on the season. 

"I do think the team weathered the storm, but I feel like we accomplished what we needed to," said Auburn coach Jeff Graba. "We were pretty good. Now we got to get into practice and get into this meet healthy and get on a roll."

The Tigers will try to get off to a stronger start, a weekly goal for a team that features plenty of young talent. 

"We are a mentally stronger team this year," said senior Skyler Sheppard. "I think that in preseason that’s been one of our biggest goals is pushing ourselves and remembering all the work that we’ve done in the gym will transition into Friday night. It’s a big confidence booster, so for us it’s really just been trusting the work and not letting one or two events with hiccups describe what we’re going to do for the rest of the meet."

This week, expect some changes to the lineups for the Tigers, said Graba.

"We’re still trying to develop some depth," he said. "When we looked at the calendar, we tried to make the month of January about giving some opportunities and February about solidifying lineups. This will be the last sort-of full-speed opportunity for people."

Graba added that he was hoping to see some of the younger gymnasts step up and put pressure on those ahead of them, with the goal of scoring higher. 

"We have to try and squeeze another tenth out of the scoring potential," he said. "Then, I need the fans there. I think it’s obvious what the fans did for us against Alabama. I think they absolutely helped us beat that team. We’re going to need it this Friday."

It's "indescribable" to compete in Auburn Arena, said junior Meredith Sylvia. 

"Anywhere you go in the SEC it’s going to be high energy and exciting, but there’s nothing like having the whole arena cheering for your team," she said. "We’re really excited to get back and be in front of our fans."

Sheppard agreed, calling it the "best feeling."

"We have the most incredible fans and they really bring our energy up to another level," she said. "There’s no better feeling than competing in front of all those people."

The two Tiger teams will meet at 7 p.m. Friday in Auburn Arena.

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