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Auburn vs Alabama
Jan 28, 2022; Auburn, AL, USA; Sunisa Lee reacts after her vault during the meet between Auburn and Alabama at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Shannon/AU Athletics

Lee National Champion; Tigers Advance to Final 4

AUBURN, ALABAMA (EETV) - The Auburn Gymnastics team punched their ticket to the final four for the first time in program history. Auburn finished their semifinal in second place just behind Florida, again. Florida finished with a score of 197.9750, and the Tigers finished with a score of 197.8375.

“Really excited about finally accomplishing what they set out to accomplish months ago,” Auburn coach Jeff Graba said. “We felt like we were capable of this. I’m really proud of the group. We talked a lot about how much fight that was going to take to get through.”

The two teams that were sent packing were SEC opponent Missouri and the defending national champs in Michigan. Missouri scored a 197.2000 while Michigan ended their season with a score of 196.2875.

Auburn was familiar with all the teams competing with them, defeating Missouri twice, losing to Michigan and both losing and tying to Florida in the regular season.

Sunisa Lee won the individual event title on beam with a score of 9.9625. With this title, Lee is the national champion in the individual beam category.

“In the past couple meets I’ve been struggling on beam so to come back and build that confidence again means a lot,” Lee said. “The team makes it all so much better because it’s so memorable, and it’s something I’m never going to forget.”

The Tigers started the meet off on beam, three different Auburn gymnasts scored a 9.9 or above boosting them to second after the first rotation. Gabby McLaughlin scored a 9.9 and was followed by Lee who recorded a 9.9625.

Auburn moved to the floor for their second rotation. The team started off slow but thanks to Cassie Stevens and Sophia Groth recording back-to-back 9.9s. Sunisa Lee scored a 9.9500 before Derrian Gobourne stepped onto the floor and threw down a routine worthy of a 9.9625 to give Auburn sole possession of the lead through two rotations.

The Tigers moved to vault with the lead which proved to be a struggle. Auburn dropped Stevens’ 9.7875 but was left with a 9.800 from Groth and a 9.8750 from Gobourne. Drew Watson came in clutch for the Tigers scoring a 9.9250.

Sara Hubbard also recorded a 9.9 on vault tying her career-high

For the final rotation, Auburn moved to bars in first place and in control of their own destiny. Auburn’s first four gymnasts all stuck their routines safely before Derrian Gobourne clinched Auburn’s spot in the Final 4 with a 9.950. Lee scored a 9.9125.

“Making it to the Final Four is just amazing,” Gobourne said. “I had a calmness about myself and the team, even watching the first event I was thinking something great is going to happen. I wasn’t really focused on the outcome. I was just focused on the moment.

Defending champions Michigan struggled on the bars. The Wolverines were forced to use a 9.0 as one of their counted scores after multiple gymnasts fell while competing in the event.

Auburn had three gymnasts compete in the all-around. Lee, Groth and Stevens all competed with Lee performing the best with a score of 39.6750 that put her in second place just behind Florida’s Trinity Thomas.

Auburn will have the chance to compete for the first national championship in program history. Auburn will compete against No. 2 Florida a team that Auburn has become very familiar with over the past month but have yet to beat in a single meet. The two SEC foes will be joined by No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 4 Utah.

“I’m so proud of us and how we handled tonight,” Gobourne said. “I’m super excited for Saturday.”

The championship meet is set for 1 P.M CST on Saturday. The meet will be aired on ABC and is set to take place in Fort Worth, Texas.