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Gymnastics Begins NCAA Postseason At Fayetteville Regional

Gymnastics Begins NCAA Postseason At Fayetteville Regional

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 2 nationally ranked LSU Gymnastics team (19-3, 5-2) is set to start the NCAA postseason in the second round of the Fayetteville Regional on Thursday, April 4 at 7 p.m. CT inside Bud Walton Arena. 

The Tigers earned the No. 2 overall seed heading into postseason and are the top seed in the Fayetteville Regional, which takes place from Wednesday, April 3 to Saturday, April 6. The team will look to secure their spot at the 2024 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth Texas from April 18-20.

“There’s no such thing as an easy regional. We’ll see some familiar SEC faces and we know that it’ll be a great environment, but regardless of where we go, we have a job to do” said head coach Jay Clark. “It’s just about us staying on our same message, and that’s focusing on the five minutes in front of our face and not getting too ahead of ourselves. We just have to go out there and be normal. If we can do that, then we’re pretty confident in the results.”

No. 2 LSU will appear in the second session of competition on Thursday against No. 15 Minnesota, No. 18 Oregon State and BYU. 

The Tigers will start the meet on vault and will rotate to bars and beam before finishing on floor. Minnesota will start on floor, Oregon State on beam, and BYU will start on bars. All teams will rotate in Olympic order. 

The sessions of competition at the Fayetteville Regional will be streamed on ESPN+ with Alex Perlman and Anastasia Webb on the call. Live stats can be found here.

LSU Marks 39th Straight Regional Berth

The top 36 teams were selected for regional competition based on the national qualifying score (NQS). The Tigers own an NQS of 198.215 as they begin their journey to nationals, their highest in program history.

This year’s NCAA Regional berth for the Tigers marks their 41st overall appearance in the postseason and 39th straight berth for the program. LSU owns 31 NCAA Championships appearances and 14 NCAA Regional championships.

Regional competition is set to begin with first round competitions on Wednesday, April 3, and continue through national selections on Monday, April 8. The Fayetteville Regional is one of four regional competition sites held nationally, hosted by No. 10 Arkansas. The other regional hosts this year are Ann Arbor (Michigan), Berkeley (California), and Gainesville (Florida).

No. 10 Arkansas will compete in the afternoon session on Thursday against No. 7 Kentucky, Arizona and Nebraska at 1 p.m. CT.

The top two teams from both sessions of competition on Thursday will advance to the regional final on Saturday, April 6. The top two finishers in Saturday’s regional final will receive an automatic berth to the national championships.

All sessions of regional competition will be streamed on ESPN Plus.

Last Time On The Floor

The Tigers finished on top in the 2024 SEC Championships in New Orleans in their last meet on March 23 to claim their fifth title in program history. The team’s score of 198.075 at the meet matched the programs highest at the championships to place them in first overall across all eight teams in both sessions of the competition. 

LSU started hot on vault and finished the first rotation with a score of 49.475, putting the Tigers in the first overall spot after one and even with Alabama. Bryant posted a 9.975 routine on vault to highlight the event and claim the individual title, her second on vault in her career.

The Tigers finished the second rotation with a 49.450 on bars, their second highest score on the event at the conference championships. LSU was even with Kentucky by a score of 98.925 at the halfway point in the Smoothie King Center. Alabama followed in third with a 98.775 and Florida in fourth with a 98.575.

The LSU bars lineup was highlighted by sophomore Ashley Cowan, who earned her first career SEC title as she matched her career high 9.950 score and finished as the top performer on the event.

The squad kept the momentum going in the third rotation on beam, tallying their second highest score in program history with their 49.475. Freshman Konnor McClain had a perfect performance and was the only gymnast to record a perfect 10 at the conference championships. It was her first individual SEC title. 

Heading into their final rotation, the Tigers trailed Kentucky by .025. Through three rotations the top scores were as follows: 148.425 Kentucky, 148.400 LSU, 148.200 Alabama, and 147.850 Florida. 

The LSU floor squad closed out the meet with a score of 49.675, the highest recorded by the program at SEC’s, to take the lead and secure the win. 

The Tigers took home titles on every event and had five individual SEC champions in Haleigh Bryant, Ashley Cowan, Konnor McClain, KJ Johnson and Kiya Johnson. 

Cowan, McClain and KJ Johnson earned their first SEC title in their careers while Kiya Johnson earned her second floor title.

Bryant finished the meet as the top all-around performer with her score of 39.800 on the night and now owns two individual SEC titles on vault and earned her first in the all-around.

Week 12 Rankings

The Tigers enter the postseason as the No. 2 team in the country. The team has ranked in the top-five nationally for all 12 weeks of the regular season.

LSU’s current NQS of 198.215 earned them the No. 2 overall seed in this year’s regional competition. The team’s five counting scores are 198.425, 198.325, 198.300, 198.075 and 197.950.

The Tigers have ranked in the top-five on all four events for six consecutive weeks. The squad ranks second on vault (49.510), third on bars (49.570), third on beam (49.530) and first on floor (49.725). The Tigers own the highest score on vault in the country this year and second highest floor score.

The squad’s top floor ranking marked the Tigers sixth consecutive week at No. 1 as they own the highest NQS in school and NCAA history on the event. 

Five gymnasts finished the regular season amongst the nation’s best and will continue to lead the Tigers during the postseason.

Haleigh Bryant has ranked the top gymnast in the country for 10 out of 12 weeks of competition thus far with her NQS of 39.810. The senior owns the highest all-around score in the country (39.925), which is a program record, the second best score in SEC history and ties for fourth-best in NCAA history.

Bryant owns an NQS of 9.900 or higher across the board and ranks individually on every event, marking her fourth week in the top-10 on every event and tenth week in the top-25. She currently ranks first on vault, fourth on bars, eighth on beam and seventh on floor.

Kiya Johnson is another veteran who ranks amongst the top gymnasts in the country. For the ninth consecutive week, Johnson placed in the top-20 in the all around with her NQS of 39.570. The fifth-year senior also improved to No. 5 in the floor rankings with her NQS of 9.970.

Aleah Finnegan and KJ Johnson remained in the top-20 in the floor rankings. Finnegan marked her fifth straight week in the event rankings as she is ninth in the country with her NQS of 9.960 while Johnson ranks at No. 14 on the event with her NQS of 9.950.

Freshman Konnor McClain improved her NQS to 9.975 on beam to place her at No. 3 on the event nationally. The ranking marked her fifth straight week in the top-10 on the event.

WCGA Regular Season All-Americans

Haleigh Bryant, Kiya Johnson, Aleah Finnegan, KJ Johnson and Konnor McClain combined for 10 regular season All-America honors this year. LSU led the conference in regular season All-America nods this year and tied for second most in the nation.

This is the 12th year the WCGA has recognized regular-season All-Americans. All-America honors are determined by final individual National Qualifying Scores (NQS) and are awarded to the top 16 finishers on each event. The top eight gymnasts on each event and the all-around receive first-team honors while gymnasts ranked nine through 16 receive second-team honors, with all ties included.

This year’s honors moves LSU’s total to 311 total All-America honors in program history, with Bryant now owning the second most career honors by any LSU gymnast. With five All-America honors in 2024, the senior moved her career total to 22 (14 regular season, eight NCAA), second only to Sarah Finnegan and Rheagan Courville with 23. 

Bryant claimed first team All-America honors on every event and the all-around for the first time in the regular season to move her total to 14. Last year, Bryant claimed honors on all but one apparatus.

The senior showed out week after week during the regular season and finished with the highest NQS in the nation with her 39.810 in the all-around. She ranked the No. 1 gymnast in the country for 10 out of 12 weeks of competition, including top-10 rankings on every event. Bryant owns an NQS of 9.965 on vault, 9.960 on bars, 9.950 on beam and 9.965 on floor.

This year has been nothing short of amazing for Bryant as she was recently named the 2024 SEC Gymnast of the Year and AAI Award Finalist. She has earned two individual SEC titles and All-SEC honors, as well as six SEC Gymnast of the Week honors, the most by any gymnast this year.

Bryant has had eight meets with scores of 9.900 or higher on all four events this year and owns season highs of perfect 10’s on each apparatus. She achieved both a gym slam and season slam this year, as she owns six perfect scores this season and 16 in her career, the most by any gymnast in LSU history.

Kiya Johnson is another veteran performer in the all-around for the Tigers this year. She finished as the No. 15 gymnast in the nation to claim second team All-America honors in 2024. The fifth-year senior earned first team honors on floor with her fifth place finish in the standings and NQS of 9.970 on the event.

The Dallas, Texas native, is now a six-time regular season All-American, after achieving All-America recognitions on vault and floor in 2021 and 2022. She owns 10 All-America honors in her career – six WCGA Regular Season, four NCAA. 

This year, Johnson’s season high of 39.675 in the all-around came against No. 7 Arkansas. She owns eight scores of 9.900+ on floor with a season high 10.000 against No. 6 Kentucky. 

Finnegan has ranked as one of the top floor performers in the country for five consecutive weeks and finished No. 9 in the standings with her NQS of 9.960. This year marks her second year as an All-American on floor in the regular season and seventh honor in her career (4 WCGA regular season, three NCAA).

The Lee’s Summit, Missouri native has recorded eight scores above 9.900 on floor this year, including back-to-back 10’s against No. 12 Auburn and No. 5 Florida.

KJ Johnson’s floor performance this year earned her second team All-America honors, marking the first in her career. The junior finished No.14 in the national standings with an NQS of 9.950 on the event. 

Johnson has had a standout year on floor, earning both All-SEC and All-America honors for the first time in her career. Her career high performance came against No. 9 Alabama on March 1, where she scored a 9.975. She earned that same score on two other occasions this year, at the Podium Challenge and at the SEC Championships to earn her first SEC Individual title. 

Johnson posted eight scores of 9.900 or higher on floor this year and spent four consecutive weeks in the top-20 on the event. 

McClain has garnered multiple awards in her first year as a Tiger. Already an All-SEC and All-Freshman team member, the freshman now owns her first All-America honor on beam. 

With seven scores of 9.90+ on beam, McClain finished as the No. 3 beam performer in the country with her NQS of 9.975. She spent five straight weeks in the top-10 nationally on the event and earned three SEC awards throughout the regular season, including two SEC Specialist of the Week honors and one Freshman of the Week.

All-SEC Members

Haleigh Bryant and Head Coach Jay Clark earned two of the top awards in the conference this year. Bryant was named the 2024 SEC Gymnast of the Year while Clark earned Co-Coach of the Year honors for the first time in his career along with Kentucky’s Tim Garrison. The annual gymnastics awards are voted on by the head coaches from each institution.

Clark is in his fourth year as head coach of the Tigers and has already led the Tigers to new heights in 2024. This year, Clark led the Tigers to the program’s fifth SEC Championship and first title under his tenure. 

The team marked multiple milestones under Clark’s leadership in 2024, including an undefeated home season, nine ranked victories over top-20 opponents and two program high scores this year, with the highest score in LSU history coming in a 198.475 victory over No. 7 Arkansas and the program’s highest road score (198.425) at the Podium Challenge.

The team currently owns a program best National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 198.215 heading into postseason, marking the first time the program has surpassed the 198 NQS mark.

Clark’s efforts on the year led the Tigers to a No. 1 finish in attendance for the second time in program history. LSU recorded an average attendance of 12,590, the highest average in school history. A total of over 75,000 Tiger fans showed out to the PMAC across six home meets this year as the program welcomed three sold-out crowds in 2024, the most that LSU has seen in a single season.

LSU had five Tigers named to this year’s All-SEC team. Bryant, Ashley Cowan, Konnor McClain, Kiya Johnson and KJ Johnson all finished as the top performers in the SEC Championships last Saturday to earn them conference honors while McClain was also named to the All-Freshman team. 

A native of Cornelius, North Carolina, Bryant was named the SEC Gymnast of the Year for the first time in her career. The senior is the sixth gymnast in LSU history to earn the award, joining past winners Sarah Finnegan, Rheagan Courville, Susan Jackson, Ashleigh Clare-Kearney and April Burkholder. 

Bryant recorded scores of 9.975 on vault, 9.925 on bars, and a pair of 9.950’s on beam and floor at SEC’s to finish in the top two on every event and secure her third consecutive year on the All-SEC team on top of her individual titles on vault and the all-around. It was her second individual championship on vault in her career at SEC’s and first in the all-around.

As the top performer in the conference, Bryant has recorded eight meets with scores of 9.900 or higher on every event and has been recognized for her performances as SEC Gymnast of the Week six times, the most by any gymnast this year. She now owns 11 SEC honors in her career and has remained the top performer in the conference through all 12 weeks of competition in 2024.

Bryant will continue to lead the Tigers as the team enters the NCAA postseason. She has already recorded 28 titles on the year, having won eight on vault, six on bars, two on beam, four on floor and eight in the all-around to move her career total to 88 (sixth most in LSU history). Her current 32 career vault titles is the second most in program history while her 27 in the all-around is the most by any LSU gymnast in their career.

Cowan had a standout performance on bars for the Tigers at the championships to earn her first individual SEC title and now All-SEC honors. Her score of 9.950 on the event matched her career high.

McClain continues to shine in her first year as a Tiger, garnering multiple SEC awards in her debut season. She was the only gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the championships last Saturday to secure her first title and join the All-SEC and All-Freshman team for the first time in her young career. She is the 19th gymnast in LSU history to earn All-Freshman honors.

Kiya Johnson, already a five time All-SEC member, added another award to her resume. The fifth-year senior posted a 9.975 routine at the meet to earn her second SEC title on floor and third career All-SEC honor on the event.

With one of the most electric floor routines in the conference and in the NCAA, KJ Johnson tabbed her first All-SEC award after scoring a 9.975 on floor at SEC’s.

Follow the Tigers

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P.S. Hi everyone Kiya Johnson here. You guys should tune into Regionals to watch us compete against some awesome teams. You don’t want to miss this! Geaux Tigers Forever!!!!!!!! I LOVE YALL “Kiya”