Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee leads Auburn into NCAA finals
April 16, 2022
During the NCAA women's team semifinals on Thursday night, the two gymnastics stars ticked every box. Suni Lee is the only Olympic champion to compete in a team competition in order to help Auburn Tigers reach the finals.
This is the second time since 1993 that this has happened. The Tigers finished second behind Florida in the second semifinal at the time, qualifying for the final four on Saturday. Meanwhile, Trinity Thomas from the Florida Gators finished the game with a show that dazzled the audience.
Lee's journey at NCAA tournament
On the balance beam, Lee was anchoring the Tiger's first rotation that night. She is one of the greatest in the world at that event, but she believes she will need more faith and persistence to win a title on the beam. Lee, unfortunately, fell off the balance beam at the SEC Championships. With a 9.975 and a perfect 10, she bounced back in the NCAA regional.
Even though the assessment at that level was deemed more demanding, Lee was able to get through her routine and earn a 9.9625 on the national level assessment. She went on to become the Tigers’ second individual national gymnastics champion. As a result, she joined her more senior teammate, Derrian Gobourne.
Lee resumed her march to a total of 39,675 people to face Thomas in the NCAA championship. After claiming a thrilling gold in Tokyo last year, Lee made history by honoring her promise to the Tigers and entering the season with the added responsibility of becoming the first Olympic all-around champion to compete collegiately. In addition, she is the only player to have won the individual title.
NCAA Women Gymnastics Final
Lee took first place on the balance beam while Thomas' success in the NCAA was crowned by a perfect 10 in the floor exercise. Thomas also took first place on the uneven bars, and Utah Gymnastics’ Jaedyn Rucker took first place in the vault. Grace McCallum of Utah, Jordan Chiles of U.C.L.A., and Jade Carey of Oregon State, who finished fourth overall, are among the other 2021 Team USA members participating in Fort Worth.
With five championships, Utah advanced to the finals for the fourth time, finishing the match on solid blocks. Utah had the highest score in the first semifinal, with a total of 49,900 points. With this achievement, Alabama or Minnesota's chances of closing the winning gap are dwindling.
During the second rotation, Oklahoma snuck past Utah into first place, thanks to a spectacular set on uneven bars. Olivia Trautman, competing in the event for the first time this season after being hindered by a knee ailment, had a 9.887 in the set. On the other hand, Michigan Wolverines' hope for a repeat national title came to an end on the third cycle of the second session. It is when a wobbly set on uneven bars sent them falling down the rankings to fourth, behind Florida, Auburn, and Missouri.
The team final was held on Saturday and featured Florida with Thomas, Auburn with Lee, Utah, and Oklahoma. In the end, Auburn may win the match due to the presence of an Olympic gold medallist on its roster.