Auburn, Ala.--After back-to-back trips to the nationals the Auburn gymnastics team will open the 2017 season on Friday night with a lot of new faces and high expectations.
The No. 8 Tigers, who open the schedule with the highest preseason ranking in school history, will take on 13th-ranked Oregon State at 7 p.m. at Auburn Arena.
“Being ranked eighth is very rewarding for this young team,” Auburn coach Jeff Graba said. “It means a lot because it is a poll of peers and other coaches around the country. This ranking is yet another record for Auburn gymnastics and I believe it shows that all our hard work continues to pay off.
“We are a young team and we have a got a lot of talent,” Graba said. “I believe we have to use the month of January to try to figure out how we can be and where the best places are to put people.
Coach Jeff Graba is a three-time SEC Coach of the Year.
“I think it is going to be a real challenge for the coaching staff, eventually, to really pick lineups,”?he said. “I would like to see us be successful, I would like to see us continue to move forward, but I don’t believe we are going to have a good answer at the end of one night. I believe we are going to need to see three or four nights of competition for us to really settle down and figure out how people are doing.”
Junior Abby Milliet, an All-SEC selection in 2015 who has competed in bars, beam and floor, will be an all-arounder to open the 2017 season by adding vault to her match schedule.
“Abby has been a good all-arounder and she has trained all-around for the last few years,” Graba said. “We changed her vault. It is now a 10.0 vault so I think that is one of the considerations. It is a more potent score for us potentially.”
Milliet agrees with her coach that the Tigers are ready for outside competition. “This preseason was hard--they (the coaches)?made it that way,” she said. “The difference was that we were able to take it so they were able to push us hard.”