Gymnastics Takes On No. 9 Alabama In Tuscaloosa
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The eighth-ranked gymnastics team (3-5, 3-3 SEC) will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 9 Alabama (6-3, 4-2 SEC) for a top-10 conference matchup inside Coleman Coliseum on Friday, February 24, at 7 p.m. CT.
The competition between LSU and Alabama will be streamed on SEC Network Plus with Roger Hoover on the play-by-play and Kiana Winston as the analyst.
“It’s just about taking the next step and improving,” said head coach Jay Clark. “I’m proud of the way this team has competed and every week we have seen improvement where we wanted. Right now, we’re trying to position ourselves the best we can for the postseason and that requires us to stay on message and not change our focus.”
The first vault will lead off at 7:01 p.m. CT in Coleman Coliseum. Live stats and streaming of the meet can be found on lsusports.net.
The Series Record
LSU owns an overall series record of 30-101-2 against Alabama and are 5-26-0 on the road. The Tigers hold a 20-61-2 record against the Tide during the regular season.
The last time the two teams met was in 2022, when No. 5 LSU defeated No. 8 Alabama inside the PMAC with a score of 198.050-197.600.
The Tigers will look for its first victory over Alabama in Coleman Coliseum since 2019.
Last Time On The Floor
LSU handed No. 2 Florida their first loss of the season, taking down the Gators with a season high score of 198.100-197.975 inside the PMAC on Friday night.
It was a season high victory for the Tigers to tie for the ninth highest overall score in program history. The team’s score of 198.100 was the first time the squad surpassed the 198.000 mark this season, as LSU is one of six teams who have reached that mark.
The night was highlighted by another perfect score from sophomore Aleah Finnegan, who recorded her first 10 on beam and third in her career.
LSU opened on vault with a 49.475 to set the tone for the meet. Junior Elena Arenas leadoff with a season high Finnegan scored a 9.950 in the third spot while sophomore KJ Johnson earned a 9.850. Junior Haleigh Bryant scored anchored with a 9.975 to take the win and close out strong.
The Tigers outscored the Gators 49.475-49.350 to take the lead after the first rotation.
On bars, the Tigers recorded four scores of 9.900 plus. Sophomore Alexis Jeffrey led off with a 9.900 and Arenas followed with another 9.900 to record a career high. Sophomore Tori Tatum added a 9.900 as well. Finnegan and senior Alyona Shchennikova both recorded 9.850’s before Bryant anchored with a 9.950 to match her career high in the event.
The Tigers earned a 49.500 in the second rotation to match its season high score and LSU held on to the lead at the halfway point with a score of 98.975-98.775 going into the third rotation.
Arenas led off on beam with a 9.825 followed by Shchennikova with a 9.850. Senior Kai Rivers had a strong routine to earn her second straight 9.900 in the third spot. KJ Johnson recorded a 9.875 in the fourth spot to earn a career high in only her fourth appearance on beam. Bryant added a 9.925 of her own before Finnegan anchored with a perfect score to propel the Tigers to a season high score of 49.550.
It was Finnegan’s third straight perfect score in three consecutive weeks and her first on beam. She now owns three perfect 10’s; one on floor, one on vault and one on beam.
In the final rotation, junior Sierra Ballard led off with a 9.875 and Shchennikova followed with a 9.925 to match her career high. Arenas scored a 9.825 in her first appearance on floor this season. KJ Johnson added a 9.950 to match her career high and Finnegan followed with a 9.900. Bryant anchored in fashion with her 9.925 routine as the Tigers finished the night with a floor score of 49.575 to complete the upset.
The Tigers handed the Gators their first loss of the season with a final score of 198.100-197.975. The victory marked LSU’s first win over Florida since 2018.
Bryant took home the win on vault, moving her total to 18 titles this season and her sixth on vault. Finnegan took the beam co-title, alongside Florida’s Trinity Thomas, who also scored a perfect 10. KJ Johnson took the co-title on floor with her career high performance to record her second title this year.
Arena competed in the all-around for the first time in her career, finishing with a score of 39.425 on the night.
Perfect Scores In 2023
Bryant earned the perfect 10 in 2023 for the Tigers on her vault against Missouri. It was her sixth career perfect score; all of them being on vault.
Finnegan recorded her first career perfect score on February 3rd and now owns three in three consecutive weeks.
Her first perfect 10 came on floor at home against Georgia, followed by a 10 on vault at Auburn and most recently on beam against the Gators. She will look to be the first gymnast in LSU history to earn a perfect score across all four events.
Bryant and Finnegan are expected to be mainstays in the all-around as the team prepares to take on Alabama for a highly anticipated conference matchup. Arenas could also appear in the all-around for the Tigers.
Bryant and Finnegan both rank amongst the top-10 gymnasts in the nation. Bryant sits at No. 4 while Finnegan is ranked No. 7. Both gymnasts also rank in the top-20 across four events individually.
An eight-time All-American, Bryant has embraced a larger role this season and has earned 18 titles in 2023, 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.
Bryant has recorded season highs of 9.950 on bars, beam and floor, and matched her career high 10 on vault against Missouri. She set a new career high 39.775 in the all-around against Florida.
In the team’s season opener against Utah, Finnegan competed in the all-around for the first time and now owns a career high score of 39.800 after her career night at Auburn. The sophomore earned her first perfect score on floor against the Bulldogs and followed with another perfect 10 on vault against Auburn to make that two in her career. Her third perfect 10 came on beam against the Gators to help boost the Tigers to victory against previously undefeated Florida.
The sophomore also owns a career high of 9.925 on bars.
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 9.875 on the event. She also recorded a career high of 9.925 on beam at Kentucky and 9.900 on bars against Florida. In her first appearance on floor this season, she earned a 9.825.
Shchennikova competed in the all-around for the first time this season against Missouri and matched her career high 39.525 against Auburn. The senior owns season highs of 9.925 on vault, 9.875 on bars, 9.800 on beam and 9.925 on floor.
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 9.900.
Junior Chase Brock made her vault and floor debuts against Oklahoma and has been continually making her mark in the lineups. 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 and matched that score against Auburn.
A native of Dallas, Texas, KJ Johnson has shown out on floor and vault, where she owns season high scores of 9.950. Johnson also recorded a career high 9.875 in only her third beam appearance against Florida.
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, which she matched again in the Tigers last meet against Florida.
A consistent bars leadoff, Alexis Jeffrey owns a career high of 9.925 on bars and has the potential to make her first career appearances on beam and floor.
Freshman Ashley Cowan made her collegiate debut at Auburn where she scored a 9.775 on bars while Wilson made her debut on beam against Utah, also scoring a 9.775. The two both have the ability to make appearances in the Tigers remaining meets.
Fans can follow the Tigers on the team’s social media channels @LSUgym on Instagram and Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsugym.
Week Seven Rankings
The eighth-ranked LSU Gymnastics team remain in the top-10 in the first National Qualifying Score (NQS) ranking of the 2023 season following a season-high score of 198.100 on Friday night.
The Tigers own an NQS of 197.335 in the week seven rankings, which is the average of a team’s top six scores, three of which must be away and the highest score dropped. LSU’s six scores are 197.450, 197.700 and 198.100 from home meets and 197.500, 197.250 and 196.775 away from the PMAC.
In the event rankings, The Tigers remained third on vault and improved to fifth on floor, sixth on bars and eleventh on beam.
Individually, Bryant placed second on vault, ninth on beam and fifteenth on bars while Finnegan placed fifth on beam and eighth on floor.
Week Seven Road To National Rankings (2/20/23)
|25||North Carolina State||196.044|