Auburn is back to the NCAA Championship, and Suni Lee has helped the team bounce back from a shaky opening rotation.
The Olympic gold medalist pulled off another perfect beam routine in the regional final, moving Auburn from fourth to second heading into the third round. The young star recorded her first perfect score on the event in late February, the same night she made her Nabieva debut for the first time in NCAA history.
Early in the match, Lee made an unusual error on the uneven bars. The reigning Olympic all-around champion posted a 10.0 on the event – the first perfect score of her college career – just six encounters into her first season. However, on Saturday, Lee erred in hitting his form on the low bar. This resulted in a score of 9.725.
Beam was a turning point for Lee and the Tigers team as the Olympian bounced back. At the end of the second rotation, Auburn was just .525 behind first-place Florida, and there was a .125 gap between Auburn and third-place Denver. A team score of 49.5 during a floor exercise for Auburn put the Tigers in a position to lock in a ticket to the Nationals.
Lee closed out the jump rotation with a score of 9.875, the team’s second-highest score on the event behind Drew Watson’s 9.975. Auburn finished second overall behind Florida, which finished the day with a total of 198.775. Both SEC teams will now head to the NCAA Championship scheduled for April 14-16.
Lee wasn’t the only gymnast to score a perfect 10 on Saturday night. Florida rookie Leanne Wong, who won a silver medal at the 2021 World Championship and was an Olympic alternate in 2020, scored 10.0 on vault while teammate Trinity Thomas was also perfect on vault and on the ground.
Auburn had to pull out of the NCAA Regional Championship last season due to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contract pursuit under the program. He was originally slated as the No. 15 seed ahead of this competition.
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