Auburn vs. Alabama gymnastics

Gracie Day celebrates during the team's meet with Alabama on Jan. 10 in Auburn Arena. 

Auburn’s a pretty chaotic team, senior Gracie Day said with a smile.

She couldn’t help but laugh. Auburn’s been through plenty of ups and downs this season, with a roster loaded with youngsters and personalities that always spill their way out on the gym floor.

So, she figures, this team might just thrive with even more chaos all around.

The Auburn gymnastics gets an early feel for the frantic pace of the postseason tonight when the Tigers compete in a quad meet in New Hampshire with the SEC Championships now just two weeks away.

Auburn competes with the University of New Hampshire, Central Michigan and Rutgers in a four-team meet that will run more like the postseason than a normal in-season dual meet, all as the Tigers hope the experience helps to prepare them for that rhythm when they’re competing for keeps soon enough.

While teams take turns in a dual meet, all four teams will compete on their respective events at once in a quad meet, causing for more of that frenetic feel given there’s less time between routines for the gymnasts and there’s noise and cheers echoing out in other parts of the arena during their performances.

“I do think our team strives in that environment because we are a very chaotic team,” Day said this week as the team prepared to travel. “That kind of puts us in our element and just kind of settles us down in some ways.

“Where other teams would get kind of freaked out by it, we kind of thrive in that environment.”

Day hit a 9.900 on floor and a 9.875 on bars on Senior Night last Friday in her last home meet in Auburn Arena. After this week’s quad, Auburn competes with rival Alabama at the Elevate the Stage meet in Birmingham next week before heading to the SEC Championships on March 21 in Georgia.

There, and in the regionals starting April 3, Auburn will be thrown into chaotic environments with four teams loading the floor a lot like the one the team is emulating with this meet in New Hampshire.

“It’ll be a good warmup for us for SEC’s and regionals, and it’ll be a good away trip in case we end up going to the Northeast for a regional,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said.

“With the quad meet, you rotate a certain way different than we rotate in dual meets, and there’s just more chaos going on around you,” he added. “You don’t have to wait as long which is sometimes good and sometimes not good. It’ll be a good prep for postseason.”

Day used that word to describe the difference: ‘chaos.’ There’s no waiting around for the other team to perform, so the time spent burning through the lineup is minimized, and for her, hearing that noise and feeling that energy elsewhere in the building while trying to focus is another important factor.

“I think going into this week we’re really excited for a quad meet, because they do go a lot faster than a dual meet. So we are very excited about that — and just being able to be in a new environment I think really helps us and gets us out of our comfort zone and sets us up for postseason,” Day said.

Better to adjust to that speed now than later.

“It’s easier to get on a roll — but you’ve got to make sure you’re on a roll in the right direction. It can all fall apart quickly but it can all come together quickly,” Graba said.

Next week’s Elevate the Stage meet is another opportunity to prepare for the postseason. With it, Auburn and Alabama will compete on the elevated podiums like the ones the teams will compete on at the SEC Championships — giving the Tigers and Tide that much more of an opportunity to adjust to whatever bounce or give the equipment has on there as opposed to an arena’s hardwood floor.

But first, Auburn’s inserting itself into the quad-meet setting, and looking to follow up last week’s 196.700 which tied the team’s season-high score this season.

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