The Olympic champion is an SEC champion.
Auburn’s Suni Lee scored a perfect 10 on bars at the SEC Championship meet on Saturday night to win the event title and cap a bounce-back effort for the Tigers in Birmingham.
Lee’s 10 was only the second 10 ever scored on bars at the SEC Championship by any gymnast. Auburn’s history-making star freshman has put her name in the record books again.
Lee helped lead Auburn to a program-record score on bars, after a rocky start to the meet. Auburn finished with a 197.225 team score and surged back late to take third in the team standings.
“It felt great to finish the meet that way,” Lee said. “My team needed me and that’s what I wanted to do — to hit for them.”
Florida won the meet with a stellar 198.200 and Alabama got second with a 197.825
It’s the fourth perfect 10 of Lee’s career and second on bars.
Lee’s 10 came as she bounced back from a fall on beam to start the night. She also scored a strong 9.950 on floor as Auburn fought back from a dreadful start on beam to finish the night with a medal-stand finish in third in the team standings.
Auburn recorded a season-low score on beam in the opening rotation, as nerves may have gotten to the Tigers in a rocking arena in Birmingham. But led by Lee, Auburn closed the meet with a season-high on bars in the final rotation, and a program record.
Senior Derrian Gobourne and junior Aria Brusch both threw 9.950’s on bars as the Tigers roared through the final rotation.
“That was phenomenal,” Gobourne said of the strong finish. “The feeling was magical. It was kind of just like we were building off of each other. It was so much fun.
“We did have a little bit of a rough start, but what matters is how you close it off so I’m super proud of this team.”
Gobourne also matched Lee’s 9.950 on floor, the second-highest score recorded at the eight-team meet.
The SEC Championship is scored by four judges instead of the usual two judges seen in the regular season, giving reason why 10s are more rare at the SEC Championship as it’s easier for judges to find deductions with more eyes scrutinizing every gymnast.
But Lee at the end was simply perfect.
She threw a secondary routine that did not include her signature Nabieva, but still had a 10.0 start, and Lee proved the move to be the right call by her and head coach Jeff Graba.
Florida’s Bridget Sloan recorded the first 10 on bars at the SEC Championship meet in 2015.
Despite the start, Auburn scored its highest score ever at the SEC Championship meet, matching its highest-place finish ever at third, and finishing with its best placing ever in the eight-team format.
“I think our youth showed at the beginning of the meet a little bit, but it was nice to see them settle down and get back on track,” Graba said. “For the most part, really excited.”
Auburn should enter the NCAA Regionals as the nation’s No. 7 seed and preliminary calculation from the Balance Beam Situation online outlet projects Auburn to be paired with Florida, Kentucky and Denver in the Auburn regional. Two teams in the regional will advance to the national championship meet. With Florida flying high, Auburn will likely have to fend off Kentucky and Denver in the fight for the second spot.