DULUTH, Ga. - Senior Cassie Stevens scored a season-best 39.65 in the all-around and won a share of the vault title to help the No. 12 Auburn gymnastics team score a 197.100 at the 2023 SEC Championship, the program's second-highest output ever at the conference meet.
Auburn won the afternoon session and finished fifth overall as the two-session meet was held in Gas South Arena in Duluth, Georgia.
"We won our session and got some big scores from the senior leaders on the team," head coach Jeff Graba said. "I felt that for the most part, the team did a good job of picking each other up and getting through the meet. We talked a lot about how that is what it takes to get through the postseason. You're going to have adversity and you have to conquer it. I really feel like we did a good job with that today."
Stevens, of Phoenix, Arizona, never scored below a 9.9 all day and her all-around performance was highlighted by the 9.95 on vault. Her 39.65 in the all-around placed her third in the category, while her vault finished in a tie for first.
"I was just happy to do it for my team," Stevens, the 2023 SEC Scholar-Athlete, said. "Knowing we had some bumps and bruises along the way, I just wanted to do it for them and I wanted it for us. We've worked so hard, and we've been through a lot this season. We're ready for the hard work to pay off and just to be able to do this and step up in these moments for my team was really rewarding."
With her title, Stevens became the third Tiger to win a conference crown. Becky Erwin won beam in 1994, while current sophomore Sunisa Lee captured bars in 2022.
In addition, Stevens was the only gymnast from the afternoon session to finish in the top eight in the all-around.
The Tigers led off the meet on vault, scoring a 49.300 behind Stevens' stellar Yurchenko 1.5.
Fifth year Derrian Gobourne and sophomore Sara Hubbard followed with a pair of 9.875s. Junior Olivia Hollingsworth and sophomore Caroline Leonard added 9.8s for the Tigers to close out scoring. Leonard earned a spot in the lineup after warmups earlier in the day and it was the first time in her career that she competed in the lineup.
"It just shows that you have to be ready when the opportunity arises, and that hard work pays off." Graba said. "This is what is so fun about postseason. Anything can happen and we're so proud of how Caroline really stepped up in the moment today."
Auburn's top team score of the day came on bars in the second rotation as the squad totaled a 49.350 behind big routines from upperclassman. Senior Aria Brusch, Stevens and Gobourne closed out the rotation with three-straight 9.9s after a fall in the third spot.
Juniors Hollingsworth and Gabby McLaughlin led off the second rotation with a pair of 9.825s.
Stevens and McLaughlin highlighted Auburn's beam showing as the pair each finished with 9.9s. Sophomore Sophia Groth chipped in a 9.875, while Brusch finished with a 9.8 and Hollingsworth had a 9.75. The Tigers combined for a 49.225 in the event.
The Tigers closed out the meet on floor, adding another 49.225 to the overall score.
Highlighting the rotation was another 9.9 from Stevens. Gobourne anchored the event with a 9.875, giving the Tigers the session win and their second-highest SEC score in program history.
Adding to the team total was a 9.875 from Hollingsworth, a 9.85 by Brusch and a 9.725 from Groth.
Florida won the meet with a 198.425 and Gator Trinity Thomas captured the all-around with a 39.8.
Up next for the Tigers in the postseason will be the 2023 NCAA Regional Championship. Auburn will find out its placement on Monday, March 20 when the selection show airs at 12 p.m. ET. The regional meet is set for March 30 and April 1 and will be hosted by UCLA, Oklahoma, Denver and Pittsburgh.
|(Seed) Team||Vault||Bars||Beam||Floor||Final Score|