Gymnastics Host No. 2 Florida In Primetime Matchup
BATON ROUGE – The eighth place gymnastics team will host No. 2 Florida for a highly anticipated Top 10 conference game on Friday, February 17 at 8pm CT at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers-Gators rivalry will air prime time on ESPN2 with Bart Conner on play-by-play and Kathy Johnson Clarke as analyst. Sam Peszek will be in the arena as a reporter.
“We are getting better and better and improving our ranking. I think our duel against Auburn was the most complete duel we’ve had and certainly the best performance we’ve had on the road,” said head coach Jay Clark. “It was the first time we stayed aggressive from start to finish. Looking ahead to tomorrow, Florida is a really good and successful team and we need to stay in that mindset that we were in last Friday night. We will go out there and compete in front of our home base.”
Introductions begin at 7:52 PM and the first vault begins at 8:05 PM CT at the PMAC.
For live stats and streaming of the meet visit lsusports.net.
Friday night at the PMAC is the Mardi Gras gathering and student point night. The first 500 students to arrive at the arena will receive a free Mardi Gras t-shirt.
The first 500 fans to attend will also receive a free We Climb jersey.
The serial record
LSU owns an overall series record of 42-75-0 against Florida and is 16-12-0 in PMAC. The Tigers hold a 34-54-0 record against the Gators in the regular season.
The last time the two teams met was in 2022, when No. 5 LSU fell to No. 4 Florida in Gainesville by a score of 197.825–198.150.
The Tigers will look to end the Gators’ unbeaten streak and record their first win over Florida in the regular season since 2018.
Last time on the floor
The ninth-placed LSU Gymnastics team dropped to No. 5 Auburn, 197,500-197,750, with a season-high score on the road Friday night at Neville Arena.
Aleah Finnegan recorded her first career perfect score on vault, marking her first title at the event. The sophomore also clinched her second all-around title against Auburn with a career-high 39,800. She now owns 11 titles a year, including four on floor and beam, one on vault and two in all-around.
LSU started with bars in Auburn. Freshman Ashley Cowan made her college debut Friday night when she scored a 9.775 in second place. Sophomore Tori Tatum added 9,850 while Finnegan himself added 9,875. Senior Alyona Shchennikova posted a 9.825 before junior Haleigh Bryant anchored with a 9.950. The Tigers recorded a 49.275 on the bar to end the first rotation.
Vault was highlighted by Finnegan’s perfect 10 in fifth place. Junior Elena Arenas led with a 9.800 and Shchennikova followed with a stalled 9.925 routine. Bryant added a 9.900 at anchor. Finnegan hit a perfect Omelianchik to record her first career perfect 10 on vault and push LSU’s score to 49,350 in the second rotation.
It was a 98.825-98.625 Auburn lead at halftime at Neville Arena.
Junior Sierra Ballard led things in her usual energetic way on the floor, scoring a 9.825. Shchennikova followed and set a career high of 9.925. Finnegan continued her dominant night, scoring a 9.975 to take the event co-title alongside Auburn’s Sunisa Lee and Derrian Gobourne. KJ Johnson also added a 9.875 as the Tigers went into the final rotation of the night.
Arenas took the lead against Auburn where she earned 9,750. Shchennikova capped her night with a 9,850 before senior Kai Rivers posted a season-high 9,900 in third place. Ballard scored a 9.850 as she continues to show consistency in her performances. Bryant added 9,900 and Finnegan anchored with another 9,950 to set her career high in the event and take the co-title with Lee. LSU scored a 49.425 on beam to set a season-high in this event.
Auburn retained the lead in the end as the meeting ended 197,500-197,750 in favor of the home Tigers.
It was another career night for LSU as the team continues to rise. With a total of 197,500 points and 49,425 points in the high beam, the team achieved a best performance of the season on the road. Individually, Shchennikova equaled her career all-around best of 39.525 with her performance against Auburn, as well as a new career all-around best for Finnegan.
Shchennikova, Bryant and Finnegan are expected to be the mainstays in the all-around as the team prepares to face Florida for a much-anticipated conference game. Elena Arenas also has the potential to make an all-around appearance for the Tigers.
Shchennikova made her all-around debut against Missouri this season, setting a career-high 39.525 against Auburn. The senior owns season highs of 9.925 on vault, 9.875 on beam, 9.800 on beam and 9.925 on floor.
An eight-time All-American, Bryant has taken on a bigger role this season, winning 17 titles so far in the Tiger’s six encounters, including six straight all-around titles. She has six perfect 10s on the vault in her career, as her front handspring front pike half is considered one of the best vaults in all of NCAA gymnastics. The junior is currently the No. 2 vaulter and No. 8 gymnast in the nation.
Bryant has posted season-highs of 9.950 on beam, beam and floor, and hit a career-high 10 on vault against Missouri. In the same game against Missouri, she had a career-best all-around score of 39,750.
Finnegan made her all-around debut in the team’s season opener against Utah and now has a career high of 39,800 after her career night in Auburn. The sophomore scored her first perfect on floor against the Bulldogs and followed that up with another perfect 10 on vault against Auburn to equal those two of her career. She also has career highs this season of 9.850 on vault, 9.925 on beam, and 9.950 on beam.
Arenas has been a constant competitor in the vault, beam and beam lineups. The Athens, Georgia-born junior won the 2021 SEC Vault title and has a season-best 9.850 at the event. She also posted a career high of 9.925 on beam in Kentucky and owns a season high of 9.875 on parallel bars.
Kai Rivers brings experience and leadership to the team. After struggling with injuries throughout her career, the senior is a fixture on the beam roster and owns a season-high 9,900.
Junior Chase Brock made her vault and floor debuts against Oklahoma and has consistently made her mark on the lineups. Brock has a season-high 9.825 on the floor and posted a career-high vault with her routine 9.950 against the Bulldogs.
Ballard brought the energy to the floor leadoff spot and owns a season-high 9,900 in the event. The Louisiana native made her debut on beam against Oklahoma, where she posted a career-high 9.825, matching that result against AUBURN.
A native of Dallas, Texas, KJ Johnson continues to show consistency in the vault and floor where she has season highs of 9,950.
Tori Tatum, a sophomore from Chanhassen, Minnesota, made her parallel bars debut against Oklahoma after suffering from an injury last year. Tatum posted a 9.875 in her very first collegiate routine and posted a career-high 9.900 against Missouri.
Freshman Ashley Cowan, a native of Hillsborough, North Carolina, trains on the uneven bars and has the potential to make the lineup, while fellow student and Louisiana-born Bryce Wilson made her collegiate debut on beam in the season opener against Utah.
Wilson posted a career-high 9.775 against the Utes and has the potential to return to Beam formation in the coming weeks.
Fans can follow the Tigers on the team’s social media channels @LSUgym on Instagram and Twitter and www.facebook.com/lsugym.
Ranking of the sixth week
The Tigers finished eighth in the week six Road To National rankings. This is the sixth straight week that LSU has been ranked in the top 10 teams in the nation.
LSU dropped to No. 5 Auburn Friday night with a score of 197,500-197,750. The result was a season-high road score for LSU to improve the team’s average in as many encounters to 197,200.
In the event rankings, the Tigers improved to third on vault, 14th on beam and 11th on floor. The team placed ninth on parallel bars.
Senior Alyona Shchennikova, junior Haleigh Bryant and student Aleah Finnegan are all among the top 25 gymnasts in the country. The rankings placed Bryant at No. 8, Finnegan at No. 23, and Shchennikova at No. 24.
The Tigers sit third in the conference behind Florida and Auburn and are first on vault, third on beam, fifth on floor and sixth on beam.
Week Six Road to National Rankings (02/13/23)
|13||State of Ohio||196,835|
|15||State of Michigan||196,713|
|20||State of Arizona||196.45|