Gymnastics Begins NCAA Competition in Athens

by Jake Terry (@LSUjake)
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Gymnastics Begins NCAA Competition in Athens

ATHENS, Ga. – The 18th-ranked LSU gymnastics team opens up NCAA competition as the No. 3 seed at the Athens Regional Saturday against sixth-ranked UCLA, No. 8 and host Georgia, North Carolina State, Maryland and West Virginia.

The meet will begin at 3 p.m. CT in Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum, and Tiger fans can listen to a free live broadcast of the meet in the Geaux Zone on www.LSUsports.net/live. Score updates can also be found on www.Facebook.com/LSUgym and www.Twitter.com/LSUgym.

This marks the 27th straight NCAA Regional appearance for LSU (5-13), and the Tigers will try to extend their streak to 10 straight berths at the NCAA Championships by finishing as one of the top two teams in the competition.

“We have had really good practices with good results, so we are hoping those practices will carry us into a good competition,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “The three best events we have had all season happened at the SEC Championship, so we have tried to take those results and capitalize on it in practice.”

At the SEC Championship LSU posted a season-high 49.350 on vault, season-high 49.150 on bars and a 49.050 on floor as the team recovered from a meet-opening 47.925 on beam.

In the regional the Tigers will begin with the bye before floor and follow with floor, vault, bye, bars and beam to close out the meet.

“If the door opens we have to be ready to step in and be consistent enough to take advantage of other people’s mistakes,” Breaux said.

LSU received a boost at the SEC Championship when All-American senior Samantha Engle competed in the all-around for the first time in her career. The Plano, Texas native posted 9.85’s on vault, bars and floor.

Freshman Sarie Morrison continued to pace the team after earning All-SEC honors by scoring a 9.90 on vault at the SEC Championship, and several Tigers tied career highs at the meet. Sarah Zoldos tied her career marks on bars with a 9.85 and vault with a 9.80, while Kaleigh Dickson tallied a 9.85 on vault to tie her high and Shelby Prunty posted a 9.80 on bars to equal her career best.

LSU will face stiff competition as UCLA and Georgia are the last two national champions in 2010 and 2009, respectively. The Tigers are undefeated against the lower seeded teams with an 8-0 record against North Carolina State, 7-0 mark against Maryland and 9-0 record versus West Virginia, but all three teams have posted scores of 195.750 or higher and will challenge the Tigers.

“I want to see consistency, and I want our kids to walk away from this event with a real good feeling about how well we did,” Breaux said.

If LSU can finish in the top two in the meet, the Tigers will qualify as one of 12 teams for the NCAA Championships April 15-17 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Regional Team Capsules

LSU
Record: 5-13
Ranking: No. 18 by GymInfo
Regional Qualifying Score: 195.530

UCLA
Record: 16-8
Ranking: No. 6 by GymInfo
Regional Qualifying Score: 196.685

Georgia
Record: 13-7
Ranking: No. 8 by GymInfo
Regional Qualifying Score: 196.535

North Carolina State
Record: 8-14
Ranking: No. 26 by GymInfo
Regional Qualifying Score: 195.155

Maryland
Record: 17-5
Ranking: No. 28 by GymInfo
Regional Qualifying Score: 195.100

West Virginia
Record: 13-10
Ranking: No. 29 by GymInfo
Regional Qualifying Score: 194.955