AUBURN, Ala. - It was a strong start for the No. 14 Auburn gymnastics team Friday night as the Tigers opened the 2019 season at home with a win over No. 29 Iowa, 194.825 - 193.225.
"I thought we started strong," Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. "A lot of room for improving, but the main thing we are trying to get this team to figure out is how to compete as a group. I felt that was where we struggled the last few years as we were a bunch of individuals out there. We're definitely a group this time."
"Our team dynamic is amazing," added senior Taylor Krippner, who scored a 9.825 on beam. "At the beginning of the meet, we started out very strong compared to our past first meets, so I was very excited with that. We still have a lot of room for improvement - landings, little things, energy levels - but I'm very excited with where we are and how we started."
Auburn began the meet on vault where sophomore Drew Watson (9.875) and junior Gracie Day (9.850) led the way. Competing for the first time at the college level, freshman Derrian Gobourne scored a 9.775 on her first vault attempt.
Gobourne tied for a team-best 9.850 on bars and earned a 9.775 on floor.
"It was really fun," Gobourne said. "I think I did pretty good at handling the pressure and everything, but going into next week I know what to do, so I can just be on cruise control."
Gobourne was one of five Tigers to finish with a 9.850 or better on bars, joining Day (9.850), Drew Watson (9.825), Abby Milliet (9.825) and Krippner (9.800). The team finished with an overall score of 49.150 on the event.
Auburn's best event of the night came on beam where the Tigers scored a 49.250. Sophomore Meredith Sylvia earned a career-high 9.925, which was the highest score on any event Friday and matched the highest beam score from all of last season.
"I have a new skill on beam, so that's probably the difference from last year," Sylvia said. "I was competing last year every meet, but when I got that new skill, it put me in a higher position to score better. I just went for it, and I'm happy with how I did."
Milliet and Skyler Sheppard also scored well on beam with a 9.875 from each of them.
Auburn finished the event on floor where senior Samantha Cerio scored a team-best 9.800, followed by Milliet (9.775), Gobourne (9.775) and Watson (9.725).
Next Friday will be Disney Night inside Auburn Arena as the Tigers return home to face No. 4 LSU at 7:30 p.m. CT.