Gymnastics Faces No. 5 Auburn For SEC Showdown
BATON ROUGE – The ninth-ranked gymnastics team will travel to face No. 5 Auburn for a top-10 SEC showdown inside Neville Arena on Friday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. CT.
The battle between the Tigers will be aired on SEC Network with Bart Conner on the play-by-play and Kathy Johnson Clarke as the analyst. Sam Peszek will be in the arena as the on-site reporter.
“We continue to show growth every meet. I feel good about our last performance, and I think it was a step forward for us,” said head coach Jay Clark. “We need to be able to show that we can perform at that level on the road. I want us to attack this next meet against Auburn. It’s fun to go to environments like this one and we’re going to embrace it.”
The competition in Auburn will lead off at 7:35 p.m. CT.
The Series Record
LSU owns an overall series record of 84-17-0 against Auburn and are 13-7-0 on the plains. The Tigers also hold a 64-12-0 record over Auburn in the regular season.
The last time the two Tigers faced off was in 2022, when No. 8 LSU defeated No. 6 Auburn 197.975-197.750 to record the program’s 300th win inside the PMAC and the arena’s second largest crowd in history.
LSU will look for its fourth straight win over Auburn in the regular season.
Last Time On The Floor
LSU defeated No. 17 Georgia with a season high score of 197.700-196.925 in front of an electric crowd on Friday, February 3.
A crowd of 12,099 fans showed out to watch the Tigers defeat the Bulldogs for the sixth-straight time in the PMAC. Sophomore Aleah Finnegan recorded her first career perfect 10 on floor to boost the Tigers to a season high floor score of 49.675 and help LSU secure the win.
LSU started off strong on vault, scoring a 49.475. Finnegan earned a 9.900 and junior Chase Broke put up a career high 9.950 to help the Tigers get off to a strong start after the first rotation. Sophomore KJ Johnson recorded a 9.875 and junior Haleigh Bryant anchored with a 9.975 of her own to take the title.
On bars, sophomore Alexis Jeffrey led off with a 9.900. Finnegan scored a 9.850 and senior Alyona Shchennikova followed with a 9.875. Bryant anchored with a 9.900 to close the second rotation with a score of 49.300 and propel the squad into the third rotation. Jeffrey and Bryant, along with Georgia’s Haley De Jong, won the event with their routines.
The Tigers lead the Bulldogs at the halfway point 98.775-98.300.
In the third rotation, Shchennikova continued to bring the competition as she scored a season high 9.850 on beam. Bryant and Finnegan both recorded 9.900’s on beam to take the co-title as LSU scored a 49.250 for the third rotation.
The Tigers finished strong to secure the win in the final rotation. Both Shchennikova and Bryant scored a 9.925, while KJ Johnson matched her career high with her 9.950 routine. Finnegan earned her first career perfect score in the fifth spot to take the win. It was a season high performance from the floor squad.
Bryant finished the night with a 39.700 to earn her sixth all-around title in six meets.
Finnegan’s 10.00 marked the first in her career and her third title on floor this season. The sophomore finished the night with a career high all-around score of 39.650.
Shchennikova also recorded a season high all-around score against the Bulldogs with her 39.400.
Shchennikova, Bryant and Finnegan are expected to be mainstays in the all-around as the team prepares to take on Auburn for a highly anticipated conference matchup. Elena Arenas also has the potential to appear in the all-around for the Tigers.
Shchennikova competed in the all-around for the first time this season against Missouri and earned a season high 39.400 against Georgia. The senior owns season highs of 9.875 on vault and bars, 9.800 on beam and 9.925 on floor.
An eight-time All-American, Bryant has embraced a larger role this season and has earned 17 titles in the Tiger’s six meets thus far, including six straight all-around titles. She owns six career perfect 10’s on vault as her front handspring-front pike half is considered to be one of the best vaults in all of NCAA gymnastics. The junior is currently ranked the No. 2 vaulter and No. 7 gymnast in the nation.
Bryant has recorded season highs of 9.950 on bars, beam and floor, and matched her career high 10 on vault against Missouri. In that same meet against Missouri, she matched her career high all-around score of 39.750.
In the team’s season opener against Utah, Finnegan competed in the all-around for the first time and recorded a career high on floor with her score of 9.950. The sophomore earned her first perfect score on floor against the Bulldogs to help record a season high score for the Tigers. She also owns career highs of 9.850 on vault, 9.925 on bars and 9.950 on beam this season.
Arenas has been a consistent contender in the vault, bars and beam lineups. The junior from Athens, Georgia, won the SEC vault title in 2021 and owns a season-high score of 9.850 on the event. She also recorded a career high of 9.925 on beam at Kentucky and owns a season-high of 9.875 on bars.
Kai Rivers provides experience and leadership within the team. After a battle with injury throughout her career, the senior is a staple in the beam lineup and owns a season-high of 9.850.
Junior Chase Brock is expected to compete in the vault and floor lineups again after making her debut against Oklahoma. Brock has a season-high of 9.825 on floor and recorded a new career high on vault against the Bulldogs with her 9.950 routine.
Ballard has brought the energy to the floor leadoff spot and owns a season high of 9.900 on the event. The Louisiana native debuted on beam against Oklahoma, where she recorded her career high of 9.825.
A native of Dallas, Texas, KJ Johnson continues to show consistency in the vault and floor lineups, where she owns season high scores of 9.950.
Tori Tatum, a sophomore from Chanhassen, Minnesota, made her debut on bars against Oklahoma after suffering from an injury last year. Tatum scored a 9.875 in her first ever collegiate routine and recorded a career high 9.900 against Missouri.
Freshman Ashley Cowan, a native of Hillsborough, North Carolina, has been training the uneven bars and has the potential to make an appearance in the lineup while fellow freshman and Louisiana native Bryce Wilson made her collegiate debut on beam in the season opener against Utah.
Wilson recorded a career high 9.775 against the Utes and has the potential to make her way back in the beam lineup 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.
Week Five Rankings
The squad placed ninth in the week five Road To Nationals rankings to remain in the top-10 for the fifth consecutive week.
The Tigers 197.700-196.925 victory over No. 17 Georgia improved their average to 197.150 after six meets after recording a season high score of 197.700 against the Bulldogs.
In the event rankings, LSU placed fourth on vault, eighth on bars, 17th on beam and improved to 12th on floor. The Tigers sit at third in the conference behind Florida and Auburn and first on vault, third on beam, sixth on floor and seventh on beam.
Road To National Rankings (2/6/23)
|23||North Carolina State||196.19|