Dickson Advances to NCAA's; Gymnastics Third
ATHENS, Ga. – LSU redshirt freshman gymnast Kaleigh Dickson earned a spot in the 2011 NCAA Championships as an all-arounder after scoring a 39.075 total Saturday night inside Stegeman Coliseum at the NCAA Athens Regional.
No. 18 LSU (8-15) finished third with a 195.350 and did not qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2001 as sixth-ranked UCLA captured the regional title with a 197.425 and No. 8 and host Georgia punched its ticket to nationals with a second-place 196.750.
The last time an individual LSU gymnast qualified to the NCAA Championships while the team did not was in 2001 when national champion Nicki Arnstad advanced to nationals with a third-place finish in the all-around.
“We’ve shown some kinks in the armor this season, and we never got any momentum going tonight,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “We showed our youth and inexperience, but we were as prepared as we could have been. Next year we are going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
LSU opened the meet on a bye in the first rotation while UCLA jumped out to a blistering 49.400 on floor and Georgia struggled to a 48.800 on beam. The Tigers competed on floor in the second rotation, but they could not sustain the momentum built in the event at the SEC Championship as LSU scored a 48.650.
Shelby Prunty led off with a 9.75 while Ashley Lee earned a 9.725 and Dickson scored a 9.825. Sarie Morrison posted a 9.60, Samantha Engle tallied a 9.375 and Maliah Mathis scored a 9.75 as all three gymnasts struggled on their final tumbling pass of each routine.
Trailing UCLA and Georgia after one event, LSU rallied to gain a little momentum with a 49.075 on vault, led by a 9.85 from Morrison and 9.825’s from Lee and Engle. Mathis earned a 9.80, and Dickson scored a 9.775 to bolster the Tigers score.
While LSU was on its second bye, Georgia increased its lead over the Tigers with a 49.325 on vault, and UCLA maintained its stranglehold on first place with a 49.425 on bars.
Although LSU outscored Georgia on beam 48.875-48.800, the Gym Dogs used a 49.425 on bars in the last rotation to cement their spot in the standings.
In her final performance as a Tiger, Engle was phenomenal with a 9.85 on beam to earn a tie for second place. Zoldos posted a 9.80, while Prunty and Dickson added 9.75’s and Morrison scored a 9.725.
Although Dickson placed fifth with her 39.075 all-around total she and North Carolina State’s sixth-place finisher Stephanie Ouellette qualified for the NCAA Championships because they were the top two finishers in the all-around not on either UCLA or Georgia, the two team qualifiers.
“Kaleigh didn’t compete at all last year, and now she is going to the national championships as an all-arounder,” Breaux said. “What a great story because her injury last year was significant. She is doing big gymnastics for us, and she is only going to get better. She has worked hard, and I am really excited about her.”
Dickson will compete on the first day of the NCAA Championships on April 15 in Cleveland, Ohio with the opportunity to give LSU back-to-back NCAA All-Around national champions. She will also compete for the chance to become an All-American and a spot in the Individual Event Finals on the last day of the championships.
1. UCLA 197.425 (VT – 49.400, UB – 49.425, BB – 49.200, FX – 49.400)
2. Georgia 196.750 (VT – 49.325, UB – 49.425, BB – 48.800, FX – 49.200)
3. LSU 195.350 (VT – 49.075, UB – 48.750, BB – 48.875, FX – 48.650)
4. North Carolina State 194.750 (VT – 48.700, UB – 48.575, BB – 48.600, FX – 48.875)
5. Maryland 193.200 (VT – 48.925, UB – 48.625, BB – 47.025, FX – 48.625)
6. West Virginia 192.500 (VT – 48.650, UB – 47.775, BB – 47.075, FX – 49.000)
Individual (Includes first place and all LSU competitors)