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Gymnastics Celebrated 2023 Season, Marked Largest Program Banquet

Gymnastics Celebrated 2023 Season, Marked Largest Program Banquet

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Gymnastics program celebrated the 2023 season with the largest banquet in program history on Sunday afternoon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The program welcomed over 400 staff, family, friends, fans and boosters to mark a new banquet record and honor the Tigers season-long climb to the national championship.

Head coach Jay Clark and assistant coaches Ashleigh Gnat, Garrett Griffeth, and Courtney McCool-Griffeth presented the athletes with various awards in recognition of their efforts in the classroom, in the arena and in the community.

Mike Smith, the LSU Gymnastics in-meet public announcer and confidant of the program, served as the emcee and started the event with the presentation of letterwinners. Lettering at LSU is a coveted honor for a student-athlete. It represents hard work, dedication and meeting preset criteria that are not always easy to achieve. There were a total of 19 letterwinners this year.

The award portion of the program began with senior awards. Cammy Hall, Kiya Johnson, Lexi Nibbs, Maddie Rau, Kai Rivers, Kamryn Ryan, Alyona Shchennikova and manager Caitlin Smith were awarded for their accomplishments throughout their years at LSU.

Next began the academic awards section of the ceremony, in which Taylor Dennehey, the team’s Academic Advisor, presented the Winter SEC Honor Roll members. 14 student-athletes were recognized for achieving a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

Smith then recognized the team as the Tiger Cup winners, which is presented to the team that has the highest total achievement in the areas of academics, community service and athletics. This award recognizes the team that most exemplifies the “total package.” This year, the gymnastics team had an overall GPA of 3.381 and seven athletes with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

The next portion of the banquet recognized the student-athletes performances in the arena. Assistant coach Courtney McCool-Griffeth presented the Dee-Dee Fulmer award to Kai Rivers for her commitment to academic and athletic excellence. Fulmer was an advocate for women’s athletics at LSU and a fervent supporter of the program.

Leighann Westfall, the Executive Director of External Relations and Letterwinner Engagement, presented the National L-Club Captain Award to Haleigh Bryant and Cammy Hall for their leadership and commitment to team excellence.

The next award was presented to the athlete who represented the team in the community and was named to the SEC community service team in 2023. Serving Baton Rouge and the surrounding community is something that is important to the program and to Sierra Ballard, who was awarded the SEC Community Service Award. 

Competing at the highest level in the SEC puts you in a very elite group of student-athletes. To be named to the All-SEC Team an athlete must finish the SEC meet with one of the top two scores on an event. LSU had three All-SEC performers in 2023 with Haleigh Bryant, Aleah Finnegan and Bryce Wilson. 

Bryant and Finnegan both scored 9.950’s on floor to finish second at the championships while Wilson recorded a career high score of 9.925 in the fifth spot on vault to place second. 

These two student-athletes are true competitors and have continued LSUs streak of excellence on the competition floor. Bryant and Finnegan raised the program total of All-Americans to 301 as they combined for 15 All-America honors this season. 

Following the recognition of our NCAA All-Americans, Ballard was named this year’s Returner of the Year. She utilized her down time throughout summer to ensure that she returned in the best place possible for the season. 

In 2023, Ballard was a consistent floor competitor as she leadoff on the event in all of the Tiger’s competitions this season and averaged a 9.86 on floor for the year. The junior earned her spot in the beam lineup in the squad’s competition against top-ranked Oklahoma and continued to hold down the fourth spot as she competed on beam in 13 out of 16 competitions for the Tigers. 

The next award was the Newcomer of the Year Award, which was presented to Alexis Jeffrey, who competed for the first time this year in the purple and gold and came in and made an impact on the competition floor. Jeffrey competed on bars as the leadoff in every competition this season. She had 11 meets where she posted a 9.850 or higher and seven meets where she recorded a score of 9.900 or higher. The sophomore also made her beam and floor debuts in the squad’s competition against Alabama.

The OG Eye of the Tiger Award, named after Olivia Gunter, demonstrates the gymnast who is selfless and understands what it truly means to be an LSU Gymnast. Gunter, who competed for the Tigers from 2018-2021, is the ultimate example of what it means to embrace your role as a teammate. This year’s Eye of the Tiger Award went to Kamryn Ryan.

The 10.0 Award was presented to Kiya Johnson, who demonstrated a perfect 10 work ethic and carried an attitude of excellence with her every day. 

Tori Tatum won this year’s Consistency Award for demonstrating consistency in her attitude, training, competition and in the ability to have a rock-solid mindset in any environment. 

Following the consistency award, the program introduced the inaugural Impact Player of the Year Awards. Chosen by each individual event coach, these awards were given to the gymnast who consistently performed for their team and recognized the impact that they made in the lineup.

Elena Arenas was named the vault impact player of the year. The junior consistently set up the vault lineup each week with her ability to stick in the lead off spot and was the ultimate tone setter. 

The bars winner was Alexis Jeffrey as she stepped into the leadoff spot and was one of the most consistent performers on the event all year long.

Aleah Finnegan was named the beam impact player of the year for being able to step in and anchor the beam lineup early on in the season. She made the adjustment into that spot with grace and ease and matured as a competitor throughout the entire season.

The final impact player of the year was awarded to Alyona Shchennikova for showing great poise and consistency from start to finish this year. The senior elevated her performance week after week, adding fuel to the fire and momentum for her teammates.

The final award of the day was the MVP award, which is given to the gymnast who contributed the most from a competitive standpoint. The coaching staff presented this year’s MVP award to Haleigh Bryant, who led her team all season long and showed out for the Tigers in 64 routines.

Fans can follow the Tigers on the team’s social media channels @LSUgym on Instagram and Twitter and

Full list of 2023 Gymnastics awards:

Senior Awards – Cammy Hall, Kiya Johnson, Lexi Nibbs, Maddie Rau, Kai Rivers, Kamryn Ryan, Alyona Shchennikova, Caitlin Smith (manager)

Winter SEC Honor Roll – Elena Arenas, Sierra Ballard, Haleigh Bryant, Olivia Dunne, Alexis Jeffrey, Kiya Johnson, KJ Johnson, Lexi Nibbs, Maddie Rau, Kai Rivers, Kamryn Ryan, Alyona Shchennikova, Tori Tatum

Dee-Dee Fulmer Gilbert Award – Kai Rivers

L-Club Captains – Haleigh Bryant, Cammy Hall

SEC Community Service – Sierra Ballard

All-SEC – Haleigh Bryant, Aleah Finnegan, Bryce Wilson

NCAA All-American – Haleigh Bryant, Aleah Finnegan

Returner of the Year – Sierra Ballard

Newcomer of the Year – Alexis Jeffrey

OG Eye of the Tiger Award – Kamryn Ryan

10.0 Award – Kiya Johnson

Consistency Award – Tori Tatum

Impact Player Of The Year

  • Vault: Elena Arenas
  • Bars: Alexis Jeffrey
  • Beam: Aleah Finnegan
  • Floor: Alyona Shchennikova

MVP Award – Haleigh Bryant