Auburn got the chance to see it, at least, up close and personal on the Plains.
No. 2 Florida toured its rock show through Auburn on Friday night.
And Auburn got a glimpse of the mountain still left ahead to climb.
Florida was its usual stellar self while Auburn blinked at times against the best competition it’s faced, before the Gators closed out a 197.875-194.750 win over Auburn in Auburn Arena.
Florida’s Olympics hopeful Trinity Thomas nailed a perfect 10 for the Gators on beam. Thomas won three out of four events and won the all-around.
Auburn, meanwhile, flipped fine on vault and recorded its third-best score of the season on bars, but stumbled to a season-low on beam as Florida rolled its way over 197. On floor, Auburn scratched ace Derrian Gobourne in a precautionary move due to soreness, and Florida rolled up the score.
Florida wasn’t the problem for Auburn, though, head coach Jeff Graba said. It was his own team’s fiery frustration coming when it didn’t meet its own expectations. And he says he can work with that.
“I know this is going to sound crazy but I’m actually very optimistic after tonight,” Graba said after the loss. “We’ve had a couple of weeks where we’ve had lack of focus and lack of energy and it was stemming from doubt in each other and in themselves — and this is the first week where we’ve bounced back, and I believe we’re on the way up because this was frustration tonight.”
Auburn’s best score of the night came from senior Gracie Day through a 9.950 on vault. She also hit a 9.900 in her return to the floor rotation.
“This is one meet in the long run and we still have a lot of gymnastics left in the season,” Day said.
Auburn entered without a full week of practice. The Tigers took two days off after two meets in the span of five days the week before.
At the same time, Graba seemed to say that the team swept some problems under the rug when it beat Alabama and competed close with LSU earlier this season — and now some of those problems finally need to be addressed.
“I was only worried about us. I think the team was finally only worried about us tonight. And if we can do that and get that solved, then we get to move to the next stage,” Graba said.
Auburn neared a season-low on floor with a 48.425, but the meet was well in hand by then and regular Skyler Sheppard was switched out of that lineup as Day saw her first action on the event since the first meet of the year. Then, mid-meet, Gobourne was scratched from the event due to her foot and Morgan Leigh Oldham got her first taste of meet action in her place.
“I was actually very encouraged that they’re frustrated but they’re motivated in the right direction,” Graba said.
Auburn continues its season next week at Arkansas. The Tigers return home to host Texas Woman’s in their next home meet on Feb. 28.