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No. 11 Auburn holds off No. 21 Arkansas

216 days ago
Auburn Athletics
Photo: Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - The No. 11 Auburn gymnastics team closed out the SEC home season in fashion Friday night with a season-high 197.100 in front another sellout crowd as the Tigers knocked off No. 21 Arkansas (196.175) to improve to 6-1 (5-1) on the year.

It's the first time in program history Auburn has won five SEC meets in the regular season.

"Honestly, we weren't focused on Arkansas at all," sophomore Drew Watson said. "We were really in our bubble tonight. That's what we've been focused on in practice. We're trying to get that back, and I think we accomplished that. A 197 is great. I think we're all really glad that we finally hit that mark, and now we can build off that. I think we got our spark back."

"I think our main goal tonight was to go out there, have fun and do what we know how to do," added fellow sophomore Jada Glenn. "We worked hard all week, and I think tonight showed that."

Watson and Glenn proved to be the catalysts for Auburn on Friday with high scores on vault to begin the meet. Glenn earned a career-high 9.925, and then two spots later, Watson closed the event with a career-high 9.950 to help the Tigers finish with a season-high 49.325 on the event.

That momentum carried over to bars where Auburn set a new program record with a 49.600.

"I really think Jada kicked us off in the right direction on vault," Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. "We took that energy to bars where Drew starts us off with a huge routine and a huge score. I think when the crowd jumped on that score and that bars routine, that's the thing that got our team rolling. They want to build off of each other."

After Watson's 9.900 to open on bars, teammates Derrian Gobourne and Samantha Cerio followed with two more 9.900s before senior Abby Milliet posted a 9.925. The high score of the night, though, came from junior Gracie Day who closed out the event with a career-high 9.975 to win the individual title. The previous record on bars was a 49.525 set in 2015.

Watson won her second individual title of the night on beam, sharing the honor with senior Taylor Krippner, as both finished with a 9.875. For Watson, it matched the career high that she set two weeks ago at Kentucky.

The Tigers finished the night on floor where Gobourne won the individual title with a 9.925. Watson was next with a 9.900, her third 9.900 or higher on the night, and sophomore Ashley Smith added a season-high 9.825 in the leadoff spot.

After hitting on all four events, Watson won the all-around title with a career-high 39.625.

"I'm really focused on the team," Watson said. "I just wanted to get out there and do what I know I can do. Tonight, I think I did that. I was not going to do what I did last time. I refused. On every routine, I was not going to make the same mistakes as last time. And it feels so good to put it all together."

"I think Drew has been waiting to break out," added Graba. "She's very impatient and was frustrated with her last few performances. I'm excited and relieved that she broke out. She's a pretty determined person, and I think this is really going to build her confidence up."

Next up for Auburn is a trip to the Lone Star State where the Tigers will face Texas Woman's University on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. CT.