No. 6 Gymnastics Set To Begin NCAA Postseason at Denver Regional
DENVER, Colo. – The sixth-ranked LSU gymnastics team marks their 38th straight NCAA Regional appearance as they begin postseason competition at the Denver Regional on Friday, March 31, at 3 p.m. CT in Magness Arena.
The squad will compete for a spot in the 2023 NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 13 and 15.
“We’ve gotten some good rest and the team is in a good place right now heading into Friday. That’s always a priority this time of the year,” said head coach Jay Clark. “There aren’t such things as easy regionals. There are a lot of good teams. Our team is as resilient as they come and we just have to stay dialed in on qualifying for nationals.”
LSU earned the second seed in the regional and will compete in the first session of the second round against No. 11 Oregon State, Georgia and Nebraska at 3 p.m. CT on Friday. The second session, which includes No. 3 Michigan, No. 14 Denver, Minnesota and the winner of the first round competition between North Carolina and Arizona, begins at 8 p.m. CT.
The top two finishers from each second round session will face off in the regional final at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday, April 2. The top two teams from the regional final will advance to the NCAA Championships.
All sessions of the Denver Regional will be streamed on ESPN Plus with Steve Schlanger and Ashley Miles Greig on the call. The Tigers will begin the meet on beam. If the squad advances to regional finals they will begin on vault.
Streaming and live stats of the meet will be available on lsusports.net.
NCAA Championships History
The NCAA regional berth marked the squad’s 38th straight appearance in the NCAA postseason and 40th overall appearance for the Tigers. LSU owns 31 NCAA Championships appearances and 13 NCAA Regional championships.
Since the first year the NCAA sanctioned gymnastics in 1982, LSU has advanced to the NCAA Regional 40 out of 41 years. The 1984 season was the only year LSU did not qualify for regional competition.
The following is the place LSU has finished in each of its 39 previous regional appearances and how many times the Tigers have finished in that spot:
- First Place – 13 times (1986*, 2002*, 2004*, 2005, 2008*, 2009, 2013, 2014*, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) – *Hosted 6 out of 12 times.
- Second Place – 15 times (1985, ‘87, ‘88, ‘89, ‘90, ‘93, ‘94, ‘99, 2000, ‘03, ‘06, ‘07, ‘10, ‘12,’21)
- Third Place – 10 times (1982, ‘83, ‘91, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98, 2001, ‘11, ‘22)
- Seventh Place – 1 time (1992)
Last Time On The Floor
The Tigers finished third at the 2023 SEC Championships with a final score of 197.800. The score marked the program’s third highest overall score at the conference championships as the squad competed in the evening session alongside top-seeded Florida, third seed Kentucky and fourth seed Alabama.
LSU started the meet on bars, where Alexis Jeffrey led off with a solid 9.850 routine. Olivia Dunne followed with a season high of 9.850. Tori Tatum scored her fourth 9.900 this season to match her career high. Aleah Finnegan added another 9.850 in the fourth spot and Haleigh Bryant anchored with a 9.875 to round out the team’s score of 49.325.
The Tigers then moved to beam, where Shchennikova and Jeffrey each scored a 9.875. Sierra Ballard scored a 9.850 in the third spot and Bryant followed with a 9.825. Finnegan anchored with her 9.925 performance to close the second rotation with a score of 49.350 and notch the squad’s sixth-highest score on the event at the conference meet.
Florida led the meet at the halfway point with a score of 99.075, while Alabama followed with a 98.925, Kentucky with a 98.725 and LSU with a 98.675.
LSU showed out in the third rotation on the floor. Ballard led off with a strong 9.900 to set the tone and Shchennikova followed with another 9.900. Chase Brock matched her career high and posted a 9.925, which she has recorded three times this season. Finnegan and Bryant were nearly perfect and earned 9.950’s in the fifth and sixth spots to boost the Tigers floor score of 49.625. The score tied for the highest score on the event at the SEC Championships.
In the final rotation, Arenas started things off with her 9.900 on vault and Shchennikova followed with a 9.875. Finnegan earned a 9.900 in the third spot, while Bryce Wilson scored a career 9.925 in her first postseason routine as a Tiger. Bryant anchored the vault squad with a 9.900 to close with a score of 49.500 and post the program’s sixth-highest score in the meet.
After a full day of competition, Florida finished on top to win the title against Alabama, LSU, Kentucky, Auburn, Missouri, Arkansas and Georgia.
Haleigh Bryant, Aleah Finnegan and Bryce Wilson earned All-SEC honors for their performances at the SEC Championships.
Bryant and Finnegan both recorded scores of 9.950 on floor to finish second on the event for the night and earn the honors while Wilson recorded a career high 9.925 on vault to earn her first conference honor as a Tiger.
LSU ranks in the top-10 nationally on all four events. The Tigers are ranked third on vault, third on floor, ninth on bars and 10th on beam.
The week 11 Road to National rankings marked the ninth-straight week that the squad placed amongst the top-10 teams in the country.
The Tigers own an NQS of 49.500 on vault, 49.420 on bars, 49.415 on beam and 49.595 on floor.
Bryant continues to be one of the top gymnasts in the nation as she ranks No. 4 in the country and No. 1 on vault with her NQS of 9.980. She also ranks in the top-20 on bars and floor.
Finnegan ranks fourth on floor, sixth on beam and 12th in the all-around.
Bryant, Finnegan Two Of Nation’s Top Gymnasts
Bryant and Finnegan earned WCGA Regular Season All-American honors in 2023. Bryant tallied All-America honors on vault, bars, floor and the all-around while Finnegan tallied honors on beam, floor and all-around.
The honors marked Bryant’s third career All-America honors on vault and second on bars, floor and in the all-around. It was the first in Finnegan’s career.
A native of Cornelius, N.C., Bryant is one of the top gymnasts in the country as she finished the regular season ranked at the No. 4 in the all-around. The junior competed in the all-around in every regular season competition for the Tigers and recorded five meets with scores of 9.900+ on all four events.
Her front handspring-front pike half is considered to be one of the best vaults in all NCAA gymnastics as she finished ranked at the top in the event with her NQS of 9.980.
She owns scores of 9.900 or higher on vault in every meet this season and recorded three 10’s in 2023 against Missouri, Alabama and West Virginia. She owns eight perfect scores on the event in her career.
Bryant also finished No. 6 in the nation on floor and No. 14 on bars. She had eight combined meets with scores over 9.900 and recorded her first career 10’s on the events in the same night against West Virginia to move her career total to 10 and place her at the top for most career perfect scores in program history.
Bryant has tallied 26 titles this season; nine on all-around, nine on vault, three on beam, three on bars and two on floor. She now owns 17 all-around titles to place at sixth for career-best in LSU history and her 56 career titles rank tenth in program history for most individual titles.
Finnegan, a native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, finished ranked No. 4 on floor, No. 6 on beam and No. 12 in the all-around.
The sophomore owns an NQS of 9.965 on floor and recorded nine meets of 9.900+ performances on the event. She recorded her first career perfect score on floor this season against Georgia and posted another at Alabama.
On beam, Finnegan had nine meets with scores of 9.900 or better and recorded her first perfect score on the event against Florida.
She owns 14 titles this season; six on beam, five on floor, one on vault and two all-around
Bryant and Finnegan are expected to be mainstays in the all-around as the team prepares for second round competition in the Denver Regional. Arenas and Shchennikova could also appear in the all-around for the Tigers on Friday.
Bryant’s front handspring-front pike half is considered to be one of the best vaults in all of NCAA gymnastics as she ranks the No. 1 vaulter in the nation. She owns season highs of 9.950 on beam and perfect 10’s on vault, bars and floor. Her career high 39.875 in the all-around came in the squad’s regular season competition against West Virginia.
Sophomore Aleah Finnegan owns a career high score of 39.800 in the all-around, which she recorded at Auburn. After recording four perfect 10’s in four straight meets, the sophomore now owns perfect scores on floor, vault, and beam and 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 9.925 on the event. She also recorded a career high of 9.925 on beam at Kentucky and 9.900 on bars against Florida. She made her first appearance on floor this season against Florida and earned a career high score of 9.875 at the Podium Challenge.
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 9.975 on floor.
Junior Chase Brock made her vault and floor debuts against Oklahoma and has been continually making her mark in the lineups. After her career night against Alabama, she now owns highs of 9.975 on vault and 9.925 on floor.
Sierra Ballard continues to bring the energy to the floor leadoff spot and owns a season high of 9.925 on the event. The Louisiana native debuted on beam against Oklahoma and now owns a career high of 9.925 after her performance at Alabama.
Junior Olivia Dunne made her first appearance on bars this season at Alabama and recorded a season high score of 9.850 at the SEC Championships.
Tori Tatum, a sophomore from Chanhassen, Minnesota, made her debut on bars against Oklahoma after suffering from an injury last year. She now owns a career high 9.900 after her performance against Missouri and matched her career high against Florida, Alabama and West Virginia.
A consistent bars leadoff, Alexis Jeffrey owns a career high of 9.925 on bars and made her beam and floor debuts in Tuscaloosa. The sophomore now owns highs of 9.900 on beam and 9.750 on floor.
A native of Dallas, Texas, KJ Johnson owns season high scores of 9.950 on floor and vault and also recorded a career high 9.875 in only her third beam appearance against Florida.
Freshmen Ashley Cowan and Bryce Wilson have stepped up in only their first season with their Tigers. Cowan made her collegiate debut on bars at Auburn and now owns a career high 9.900 after her routine against West Virginia. Wilson made her debut on beam against Utah and her vault debut at Alabama. She now owns career highs of 9.850 on beam and 9.925 on vault.
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