Jan. 22, 2009


Courtesy of Auburn Athletics

AUBURN –  The sixth-ranked Auburn (1-2, 0-1 SEC) gymnastics team will return to action in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum Friday night, playing host to No. 18 Iowa State (0-2,0-2 Big 12) at 7 p.m. CT. Live stats and video for Friday’s meet will be available on auburntigers.com.

“With it being our second home meet, we want to go out and perform the way we did against Alabama and even better than that,” head gymnastics coach Jeff Thompson said. “Ideally, we don't want to have any falls, but our secondary goal is if we do fall, not to have to count a fall. If we get good scores, we'll have a good chance of winning the meet.”

In GymInfo’s national rankings released on Monday, Auburn ranks among the nation’s top-10 on all four events: second on floor (49.150), seventh on beam (49.017), eighth on bars (48.917) and 10th on vault (49.008).

Individually, senior A.J. Mills is fifth nationally in all-around competition, 11th on floor and 12th on beam. Fellow senior Lindsey Puckett is tied for eighth on vault, is 10th in the all-around and 17th on floor. Rachel Inniss, a sophomore from Rio Rancho, N.M., is ranked 12th on floor. Combined, the trio has seven top-20 rankings.

The Tigers are coming off a close 196.500-196.250 loss at top-ranked Florida on Jan. 16. Despite the loss, team season-high scores were set on bars and floor and tied on vault. Eight individual career-high scores were set or matched against the Gators. Auburn also hit 24-of-24 routines and through three meets the Tigers have hit 68-of-72 (.944) routines.

“What our gymnasts are doing in competition is what they are doing every day in practice,” Thompson said. “They perform at a high level every single day. We're trying to avoid making mental mistakes. If they do what they've done at practice, then they are going to do great routines again.”

Friday’s meet against Iowa State marks the return of former Auburn assistant coach Jay Ronayne. Now in his third year as the Cyclones’
head coach, Ronayne spent four seasons (2003-06) on Thompson’s staff before heading north to Ames, Iowa.

“It's going to be fun for him and his team to come to Auburn,”
Thompson said of Ronayne’s return to the Plains.

The last meeting between Auburn and Iowa State came at the 2008 NCAA Central Regional in State College, Pa. The Tigers scored a 195.150 en route to a fourth-place finish. ISU placed sixth with a 194.200. It has been 10 years since the Cyclones last traveled to Auburn. On Jan. 30, 1999, Iowa State stormed the Plains, defeating Auburn 194.050-191.925.

Iowa State is taking to the road for the first time this season after opening the 2009 campaign with a pair of meets at home in Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones have yet to win a meet, dropping its first two contests to then-ranked No. 19 Missouri (195.050-193.175) and then-ranked No. 16 Nebraska (195.550-194.775).

Even with a pair of losses, ISU’s floor and bars scores rank among the nation’s top 20 at 12th and 13th, respectively. The Cyclones are tied for 26th on beam and rank 45th on vault.

Friday night’s meet is entitled Short People Appreciation Night.
Anyone shorter than Auburn’s Lauren Brzostowski, the shortest gymnast on the Tiger roster at 5’, will have free admission into the meet. The first 300 arriving fans will receive orange AU sunglasses. Following the meet the team will have an autograph session.