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Kristy Rivero | | April 18, 2015

Miraculous recovery

2015 NC Gymnastics Championship: Semifinal Recap

FORT WORTH, Texas -- There was nothing sweet about Valentine’s Day 2014 for Bri Guy.

In just the sixth meet of the season against arch-rival Alabama, Guy was competing on the floor.

As she prepared for a double layout on her tumbling pass, she hit a dead spot in the floor and landed on her head. While trainers were concerned about a concussion, Guy casually mentioned her ankles burned. She left the arena on a stretcher and an MRI later showed torn Achilles tendons in both legs. Her season -- and possibly her career -- was over.

“If it wasn’t for my teammates I don’t think I would have gotten back as fast as I did,” Guy said. “They definitely didn’t let me feel sorry for myself.”

Flash forward 14 months later. Not only is Guy walking, but she is thriving, competing in the three events at the NCAA championships and leading Auburn to its first Super Six appearance since 1993.

“My surgeon is so surprised I’m walking without a limp let alone running. For me to be doing this it’s kind of [thing is] unheard of.”

"What she’s done in and of itself is amazing,” head coach Jeff Graba said. “I know the physical thing’s a big deal but I don’t think anybody can lend enough to the mental side of what she’s done. Just to come back from something like that and do this sport again.

“We have a tough team. … It’s easy to be tough when you’ve got Bri on your team because what’s she’s gone through I think it’s helped our whole athletic department. A big reason we’re here is because of her.”

Auburn posted a 197.075 to finish third in the evening session behind Oklahoma and Alabama. The Tigers join Florida, Utah and Stanford in the finals on Saturday.

Auburn’s Super Six appearance is all the more surprising because this is only the fourth time the team has qualified for the NCAA championships and the first since 2003. When LSU had two falls on beam, it opened the door for Auburn to take advantage.

“We have a bunch of rookies here and they’d never been here before and we’re conscious about taking the steady Eddie approach,” Graba said. “We’re just going to try and go about our business, try to ignore what’s going on around us.

"Our goal was to hit a good meet. I think our team’s talented enough that if we hit a good meet we can beat quite a few people and at least we’ve put ourselves in a position to move on so. I felt like the girls did a good job of keeping their head down in an environment they’ve never been before.”

Graba, in his fifth season on The Plains, was an assistant at perennial-powerhouse Utah and has transformed the program. Now his team has a shot at its first national title since 1993 -- Guy hadn’t been born yet.

“For me it’s half excitement and half relief because I felt like the team was capable of this and you get so attached to these girls. We all do and you just want them to try and live up to their potential. … It’s nice to see we we were capable of it in the end.”

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