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Gymnastics Coaching Staff Amongst Best In The Nation; Claims 2024 NCAA Regional Awards

Gymnastics Coaching Staff Amongst Best In The Nation; Claims 2024 NCAA Regional Awards

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Gymnastics coaching staff claimed 2024 NCAA Regional Awards, as announced by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA). Jay Clark was named the Region One Head Coach of the Year while his staff earned Region One Assistant Coaches of the Year. 

Clark was recently named the SEC Co-Coach of the Year for the first time in his career and now adds his first NCAA regional award to his resume. Under his leadership, The Tigers have already seen multiple record performances in 2024, including the program’s fifth SEC title on March 23. 

Clark and the Tigers began postseason competition on Thursday as he continues to lead LSU to their ultimate goal this season, the NCAA Championships. The Tigers started off regional competition on a high note, as the team recorded the highest score by any team in the second round competition in Fayetteville and finished first in the evening session to advance to the regional finals on Saturday, April 6.

The year started with a record breaking number of 8,000 season tickets sold ahead of the 2024 season, surpassing last year’s record of 7,400. Over 75,000 Tiger fans showed out to the PMAC across six home meets this year. LSU went undefeated at home in 2024 with a record of 6-0 and finished the regular season No. 1 in attendance thanks to Clark’s efforts.

It was the second time in program history that LSU earned the highest average attendance in the nation and was highlighted with three consecutive sold-out crowds, the most that LSU has seen in a single season. The Tigers finished the regular season with an average attendance of 12,590, marking the highest average in school history and the seventh-straight season with an average of 10,000 or better.

LSU is ranked No. 2 nationally with their highest NQS ever recorded by the program. The squad took down nine ranked opponents throughout the year, helping LSU surpass the 198+ mark in NQS for the first time in school history.

The team ranked in the top five nationally for all 12 weeks of regular season competition, including top 5 rankings on all four events for six consecutive weeks. Clark mainly coaches the bars squad, who finished the regular season ranked third in the country and spent 11 weeks ranked in the top five nationally.

The LSU bars squad entered the NCAA postseason with an NQS of 49.570, with their season high performance coming in their meet at the ESPN Invitational on the road and again at home against No. 9 Alabama.

Haleigh Bryant and Ashley Cowan shined on bars at the SEC Championships as they finished as two of the top performers on bars. Cowan was named the bars individual champion for her first career SEC title, while both earned All-SEC honors under Clark’s supervision. 

Clark and his staff have coached five Tigers to individual SEC titles this year and had five gymnasts combine for 10 All-America honors in Bryant, Kiya Johnson, KJ Johnson, Aleah Finnegan and Konnor McClain. LSU led the conference in regular season All-America nods this year and tied for second most in the nation.

Clark and the Tigers will look to advance out of the regional finals on Saturday and secure his second final four appearance under his tenure and the program’s 32nd appearance at the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth from April 18-20.

Clark’s team of assistant coaches also tabbed regional coaching honors for the first time in their LSU career. Ashleigh Gnat, Garrett Griffeth and Courtney McCool Griffeth were all named the Region One Assistant Coaches of the Year for their efforts this season. 

Gnat is in her fourth season with the Tigers and primarily leads the beam squad. This year, the LSU beam squad finished the regular season ranked No. 3 nationally with their NQS of 49.530, which matched the highest recorded NQS in program history on the event.

The Tigers spent seven straight weeks amongst the nations top five beam squad’s under the supervision of Gnat, as well as one of the top beam performers in McClain, who ranks No. 3 in the country.

McClain was the top beam performer at SEC’s, where she earned her first career individual SEC title and was the only gymnast across both sessions of competition to earn a perfect score. The freshman has been a standout beam performer this year, earning an SEC title, All-SEC honors and regular season All-America honors on the event. 

LSU’s season high on beam came against No. 12 Auburn on February 16 inside the PMAC, where the team recorded a 49.725 on the event. The score matched the highest in program history.

Bryant and McClain have recorded perfect scores on beam in 2024. Bryant’s perfect 10 came against Georgia to complete her career gym slam, while McClain has earned two perfect scores at Missouri and at this year’s SEC Championship.

The LSU beam squad started off postseason with a program record score at regionals, as their 49.350 on Thursday night matched the sixth highest score in school history.

LSU entered the NCAA postseason as one of the top vault squads in the nation. Griffeth is in his third season with the Tigers as he continues to lead the vault squad to top-five finishes nationally every year. 

The Tigers finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the country on vault with their NQS of 49.510 and placed in the top five for all 12 weeks of competition this year. Their current NQS is the highest achieved under Griffeth’s leadership thus far.

The Tigers season high 49.675 performance on the event came in their meet at the Podium Challenge on March 8 that was highlighted by a perfect score from Bryant. The score was the second highest vault score in program history. 

The squads performance at the Podium Challenge led them to the highest score by any vault team in the nation and has only been recorded by one other team this year, the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners. 

Bryant’s front pike half is one of the best vaults in the nation. She has ranked the No. 1 vaulter on four separate occasions in 2024 and earned a spot amongst the top five for all 12 weeks of competition under the supervision of Griffeth. The senior owns the only perfect score on the event for the Tigers so far this year. 

The LSU floor squad is the best in the nation thanks to the leadership of McCool Griffeth, who is in her third season with the Tigers. This year, she has led the Tigers to their highest ever NQS in not only program history, but in NCAA history. 

The floor squad is the No. 1 team in the nation with an NQS of 49.725, the highest in the nation. LSU earned the top spot in the country on floor on eight separate occasions in 2024 and have ranked in the top five nationally for all 12 weeks of competition this year. 

The Tigers own a season high of 49.775 on floor this year, which they recorded three times against No. 7 Arkansas, No. 5 Florida and No. 9 Alabama. The score matches the program best in LSU history.

Haleigh Bryant, Kiya Johnson and Aleah Finnegan have combined for six perfect scores on floor this year. Finnegan owns three, Bryant has two and Johnson has one this season. 

Finnegan continues to be one of the top floor performers in the country under the leadership of McCool Griffeth. The junior was crowned the regional champion last night at the Fayetteville Regional after recording her third 10 on floor this year to finish as the top performer on the event. Her perfect score on floor was only the third time an LSU gymnast achieved perfection at a regional.

McCool Griffeth has coached four All-Americans on floor this year and two All-SEC floor members as Bryant, Finnegan, Kiya Johnson and KJ Johnson all finished the regular season amongst the top floor performers in the nation.

The Griffeth duo owns multiple coaching awards throughout their career, including 2014 Coaches Association Division II Assistant Coach of the Year, 2017 Midwest Independent Conference Assistant Coach of the Year and 2020 Region Two Assistant Coaches of the Year. This year’s regional award marks the first for Assistant Coaches Garrett and Courtney during their career at LSU.

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