AU Hires Utah Coach to Lead Gymnastics Team

Auburn, Ala.--University of Utah assistant coach Jeff Graba has been hired to take over the Auburn women's gymnastics program.

On Monday Auburn's Director of Athletics, Jay Jacobs, announced that Graba has been selected to take over for Jeff Thompson, who took a job as head coach at Penn State earlier this year.

Grayba (pronounced gray-ba) comes to Auburn from one of the top women's gymnastics college programs in the nation. While on the staff at Utah, the Utes finished as the NCAA runnerup three times and also had a third place finish. p> "I am both excited and thankful for the opportunity to coach in what I believe is one of the top athletic programs in the country," Graba said. "I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to improve on an already quality gymnastics program, and to compete in the SEC, one of the premier conferences in the country. My family and I are also thrilled to be a part of the Auburn family, and we can't wait to get settled."

Graba replaces Thompson, who had been head coach of the Tigers since 2000. Auburn's top finishes under Thompson were fifth places at the SEC meet and a 12th place nationally in 2003.

A native of Forest Lake, Minn., and a 1992 graduate of the University of Minnesota, he has coached gymnastics for 22 years. In 2009 he was the NCAA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. While coaching at Utah from 2006-2010 the program produced two NCAA event champions and nine All-Americans.

While in Salt Lake City he serve as Utah's recruiting coordinator while coaching the bars and floor routines.

"We are very pleased to bring someone of Jeff's caliber and experience to Auburn," Jacobs said. "He has played an instrumental role in the success that Utah has enjoyed during the last five years, and we believe Jeff can elevate the Auburn gymnastics program to new heights. We welcome Jeff and his wife, Bridget, and their five children to the Auburn Family."

In 2006,he coached freshman Kristina Baskett to Utah's first NCAA uneven bar title in seven years. Nine gymnasts he coached qualified for the bar finals at the NCAA Championships producing five Top 5 finishes.

Graba spent two years as an assistant at Utah State where he helped the program in 2005 to its first Western Gymnastics Conference Championship and first regional appearance in three years. He also served as the school's lead recruiter and assisted with the strength and conditioning program.

From 1995-2003 Graba was co-owner and head coach of Midwest Gymnastics Training Center in Arden Hills, Minn., where three of his gymnasts qualified Elite in his last three years with the program. Graba coached Ashley Mutchler to a first-place finish at both the 2003 American and U.S. Challenge/Classic meets in the Senior National Elite Division. Several of his club gymnasts also qualified for the Level 9 and 10 Junior Olympic National Championships.

Graba's first collegiate coaching position came from 1992-98 as an assistant women's gymnastics coach at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He helped guide Hamline to six straight trips to the Division III National Championship and a runner-up finish in 1996. Eleven of his gymnasts combined to win 26 National Collegiate Gymnastics Association All-America awards. He also coached more than 20 scholastic All-Americans.

During part of his term at Hamline, Graba was also coaching at Flips Gymnastics Center (1988-95) in Minneapolis. He coached Level 10 gymnast Sarah Reiling-Hildebrand, who made the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Diving Teams.

From 1988-91, he also coached at both North St. Paul High School (1988-92) and White Bear Lake High School (1990-91). He was the head coach at North St. Paul High School from 1991-92.

Graba and his wife Bridget, have five children named Bryan, Jaymie, Jason, Kyla and Shayla.

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