Fifth-year gymnast Derrian Gobourne stepped up late as No. 7 Auburn returned to Neville Arena on Friday night to take down No. 14 Georgia by a score of 197.550-196.075 in the last home SEC matchup of the season for the Tigers.
Gobourne’s stellar performance on the night included two 9.95s on bars and floor and a 9.9 on vault.
“I just have to do my part,” she said.
Auburn’s overall score was a marked improvement over last week, which saw the Tigers drop below 197 for the first time this season when they put up season-lows on vault, bars and beam while resting some gymnasts against Missouri. This week, they aimed to put up better scores to get the momentum going to start the meet.
Auburn started off strong with its second-best performance on vault this season with a score of 49.450.
“It’s what we set out to do, and our whole week — that’s what we’ve been focusing on is starting strong,” said junior Olivia Hollingsworth, who added that the improved score at the beginning of the meet set the right tone for the rest of the night.
“It meant a lot to us to achieve that goal that we were working for this week,” Hollingsworth said.
Although Auburn got off to a better start against Georgia, the Tigers saw a dip in score on beam. Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said his team is struggling to gain confidence from and build off each other on beam, leading to a lack of growth in the event.
“It seems like we’re six individuals up on beam rather than a squad that trusts each other and builds on each other,” he said. “It’s always somebody else that is struggling and it’s usually because we’re all trying to score 11s rather than just go up and do our jobs.”
Auburn found itself in another hole in the final event after Suni Lee scored an uncharacteristic 9.725 on floor. Gobourne stepped up and finished off the event strong for Auburn with a 9.95.
“I just know that I have to have her back and have to do my part,” she said.
Although the Tigers returned to their high-scoring ways, Graba said the team is not in the same position confidence-wise this year as it was at the same time last year.
“I think last year we had a little more confidence at this point,” Graba said. “This year, we’ve got some people in new positions and I do think some of that is just now rounding into shape.”
Despite those concerns, Graba said he believes teams wanting to beat stars such as Gobourne and Lee every week has his team ready to round out the regular season and move into the postseason.
“We’re ready for the postseason,” Graba said. “We’ll go to Kentucky next week and have another record crowd and they’ll want to beat us … No better way to prepare for the postseason than this way — this gets you there.”
Auburn’s win was the last home SEC meet for Gobourne and Lee, who will suit up one more time in Neville Arena against Penn State on March 10.
Gobourne said she is taking everything in as her Auburn career comes to an end.
“I was looking around and this is something that I’m going to take with me forever,” she said. “I’ll never forget those fans out there and I’m just trying to soak it all in.
Lee won all-around with a score of 39.475 and tied Gobourne for best score on bars with a 9.95. Auburn’s Gabby McLaughlin and Georgia’s Vanessa Deniz tied for best score on beam with 9.9. Gobourne won floor with a 9.95.
The Tigers travel to Kentucky next Friday for their final SEC meet of the regular season. The meet is set to start at 6 p.m.
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