2020 Auburn Tigers

AUBURN TIGERS
Seniors
Katie Becker
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Showed 8 VTs, 5 UBs in 2019
  • Made final UB lineup (9.795 average)
  • NQS of 9.745 VT
  • Competed 1 BB for 9.225
  • Showed all four events in 2018 season
Gracie Day
VT
UB
FX
  • Competed VT, UB every week in 2019
  • #1 returning score on UB (9.885)
  • #3 returning score on VT (9.845)
  • Showed 6 FXs, 2 hits
Kendal Moss
UB
  • Competed 1 UB in 2019 for 9.850
  • Made final 2018 UB lineup with 9.825 RQS
Skyler Sheppard
BB
FX
  • Competed BB, FX in 13 of 14 meets in 2019
  • #3 returning score on FX (9.820), BB (9.810)
Emma Slappey
(redshirt)
BB
FX
  • Returned to compete 9 FXs in 2019
  • #3 returning score (9.820)
  • BB RQS of 9.845 in 2018
Juniors
Jada Glenn
VT
  • Competed VT in 13 of 14 meets in 2019
  • NQS of 9.785, peak of 9.925
Allie Riddle
BB
  • Made final BB lineup in 2019
  • NQS of 9.810, peak of 9.950
Ashley Smith
FX
  • Showed 6 FXs in 2019
  • Average 9.767, peak 9.825
Meredith Sylvia
BB
  • Competed BB every meet in 2019
  • #1 returning score on BB (9.880)
Drew Watson
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA every week in 2019
  • #1 returing score on VT (9.900)
  • #2 returning score on FX (9.840), BB (9.820)
  • #3 returning score on UB (9.855)
Sophomores
Sabrina Cheney
 
  • Did not compete in first season
Derrian Gobourne
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed weekly AA in 2019
  • #1 returning score on FX (9.905)
  • #2 returning score on VT (9.890), UB (9.875)
  • NQS of 9.780 BB
Freshmen
Aria Brusch
VT
UB

BB
FX
  • CGA
  • 5th AA, 2019 JO Nationals
  • Former junior elite
Molly Frack
(redshirt)
UB
BB
FX
  • Did not compete in first season
  • Former junior elite
Morgan Leigh Oldham
 
  • Sonshine
  • 10th BB, 2017 JO Nationals
Elise Panzner
VT
  • La Fleur’s
  • 30th AA, 2019 JO Nationals
Adeline Sabados
UB
BB
  • Colorado Aerials
  • 13th AA, 6th UB 2019 JO Nationals
Piper Smith
VT
UB
  • First in Flight
  • 6th UB, 23rd AA, 2019 JO Nationals
Cassie Stevens VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Arizona Sunrays
  • 10th AA, 1st VT, 2019 JO Nationals
Anna Sumner
 
  • Tift
  • 43rd AA, 2019 JO Nationals
Sydney Wrighte
(redshirt)
 
  • Did not compete in first season

FINAL SEASON RANKING
2019 – 16th
2018 – 14th
2017 – 15th
2016 – 11th
2015 – 6th
2014 – 20th
2013 – 13th
2012 – 15th
2011 – 19th
2010 – 19th

THE 2019 STORY
Auburn spent the entirely of its 2019 season in the 11-13 ranking zone and will therefore feel that a final placement of 16th—largely informed by an unforeseen bars disaster in the regional final—understates the team’s quality. Which is probably true. It’s Auburn’s weakest finish of the last five years but not its weakest team.

DEPARTED 2019 ROUTINES
Abby Milliet – UB, BB, FX
Taylor Krippner – VT, UB, BB
Sam Cerio – UB, FX
A’Miracal Phillips – VT

Auburn has lost about 8 of 24 routines from its 2019 ideal lineup (not the very final lineup, though, because Cerio was injured by that point), which is not small but not totally unusual or unmanageable for a replacement mission.

INCOMING GYMNASTS
As seems to always be the case, Auburn has a big new class and a bunch of unfamiliar faces—seven freshmen along with a number of last year’s freshmen who didn’t end up competing, some of whom have redshirted. The team should be able to find the necessary replacement routines in this group, and make particular note of all-around contenders Aria Brusch and Cassie Stevens, the freshmen you should counting on seeing the most.

2020 PROJECTION
Auburn is looking at enough lineup turnover that we should expect to see a different team in 2020, at least one with different strengths and weaknesses. Abby Milliet won’t be around to save the day on bars and beam, but we can also look to some increased potential on the leg events that Auburn will hope balances out the losses to produce another season in the “could they be nationals spoilers?” contention zone.

VAULT

2019 Event Ranking: 12

Lineup locks: Gracie Day, Drew Watson, Derrian Gobourne
Lineup options: Cassie Stevens, Aria Brusch, Jada Glenn, Elise Panzner, Piper Smith, Katie Becker

Auburn showed competitive difficulty in its vault lineup in 2019, and while the team loses two final-lineup vaults from that team, those two were not the biggest scores the team had to offer. With the meatiest portion of the lineup returning, Auburn should be pretty optimistic about its chances to improve its vault scoring a little in 2020.

The big vaulters from last season—Day, Watson, and Gobourne—will all bring their Y1.5s back to the most honored positions in the lineup, and they should be joined by freshman Cassie Stevens, who has a 1.5 of her own that scored very well in JO. Aria Brusch has always shown huge amplitude on her full, so I’d expect to see her break into the lineup, and Auburn will be working to try to get a 1.5 from Elise Panzner into the group as well. That’s already six, which brings us to the Jada Glenn conundrum.

Glenn has a Y1.5 that has made her a mainstay in the lineup in her first two seasons, but the landing control has never really been there enough to make score-sense compared to a clean Yfull. Auburn may continue to give it a go with her vault, because about twice a season she’ll pop out the window with something like a 9.9, but may also decide to give Panzner a shot instead to see if her 1.5 is more reliable—or opt for a safer full from Piper Smith or Katie Becker.

BARS

2019 Event Ranking: 8

Lineup locks: Gracie Day, Drew Watson, Derrian Gobourne
Lineup options: Aria Brusch, Cassie Stevens, Adeline Sabados, Piper Smith, Katie Becker, Kendal Moss

Auburn is dealing with its largest losses on bars, a lineup that achieved some truly massive scores here and there in 2019 but did so with critical contributions from Milliet, Cerio, and Krippner, who are no longer with the team. There’s work to do to return this lineup to the level that expected 49.3s and occasionally got 49.5+ last season.

The core group of three is the same as on vault, with Day, Watson, and Gobourne presenting essential routines that you can count on returning. I’d expect Brusch to get into the lineup as well. Once returning to JO, she notched her highest scores on bars, and we’ve seen a lot of her DLO dismount in training footage. Beyond that, we may see some experimentation. In terms of returners, this is my preferred event for Becker, who can always go anywhere as needed, and Kendal Moss had an excellent routine earlier in her NCAA career but barely competed last season.

Bars is also the most prolific event for the freshman class, with not just Stevens and Brusch as options but also someone like Adeline Sabados or Piper Smith, who both got some really strong JO scores on this piece. Because there’s some uncertainty about who fills out the lineup, I’d be tentative about bars expectations for now, but the number and potential of the options is high enough to think Auburn can mold together another strong group depending on how they play out in real life.

BEAM

2019 Event Ranking: 21

Lineup locks: Meredith Sylvia, Drew Watson, Skyler Sheppard
Lineup options: Allie Riddle, Derrian Gobourne, Emma Slappey, Cassie Stevens, Aria Brusch, Katie Becker, Adeline Sabados, Gracie Day, Molly Frack

Auburn has lost only one beam routine from last year’s lineup, but it’s Abby Milliet’s, so it basically counts as three routines. On top of that, Auburn was most likely to get stuck in the 49.0s on beam last season as its weakest event score, so the team is looking not just to reconstruct last year’s group but to improve upon it.

It’s not clear that there are a bunch of new options for this lineup. Brusch and Stevens will both provide possibilities, but beam was never the strongest score for either, so the team may be leaning on improvements from upperclasswomen to build up those scores.

In that regard, when Emma Slappey returned last season we saw her on only floor, but she recorded some strong beam numbers in previous seasons. Meanwhile, Gracie Day competed beam at last weekend’s intrasquad when she had previously been a three-eventer, so Auburn may be looking at that kind of inside hire to join some obvious lineup locks like Sylvia, Watson, and Sheppard, whom we know can get 9.8s. Something new needs to happen to get the team out of that #21 hole.

In terms of the remaining lineup, Riddle has always been strong for 9.800s and can return, and I anticipate we’ll see Gobourne doing a lot of AAing again in 2020 even though beam is typically a nerve-racking endeavor that can get 9.7y. If we don’t see her on one of the events this season, it’ll be this one.

FLOOR

2019 Event Ranking: 20

Lineup locks: Derrian Gobourne, Drew Watson, Aria Brusch
Lineup options: Gracie Day, Skyler Sheppard, Cassie Stevens, Emma Slappey, Ashley Smith, Katie Becker,

Despite losing its 5th- and 6th-position gymnasts from last season, Auburn’s floor lineup looks in good shape. Brusch is definitely going to come in here as a late-lineup option with her gigantic full-in, and Stevens had a piked full-in during JO, which I’d imagine moves her up toward the front of the line. As important as their introductions, though, would be the return of Day to the floor lineup. Day wasn’t in the final floor lineup in 2019 because of hitting problems, but she has obvious 9.9 ability and pedigree and needs to be there in her senior season for Auburn to reach its true potential.

Throw those three into the mix, and Auburn should feel comfortable with its possibilities for improvement in 2020. Gobourne is the star anchor—even though she wasn’t the anchor last season, she was the “anchor”—and will get 9.9s again, and Watson will provide a necessary early-mid score that can occasionally get into the higher 9.8s. If that all works out, Auburn would have Sheppard and Slappey, both of whom made the lineup last season and can go solidly 9.850, competing for the final spot in a tougher, upgraded squad compared to last season.

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