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Gymnastics to Compete in Semifinal I of NCAA Championships

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Gymnastics to Compete in Semifinal I of NCAA Championships

FORT WORTH, Texas – The No. 2 LSU Gymnastics team (25-3, 5-2 SEC) is set to kick off competition at the NCAA Championships in the first session of semifinal action on Thursday, April 18 at 3:30 p.m. CT in Dickies Arena.

“I’m proud of our group. We’re one step closer to where we’re trying to go and we’re ready to keep the train rolling. This team has done a good job of staying present and doing it for each other. That’s been a huge key for our success this year and we just want to continue to stay true to ourselves,” said head coach Jay Clark.

“It doesn’t get any easier now that we’re headed to the semifinals. That in itself is certainly a great accomplishment, but we want to continue to move forward and stay in the same mindset we have all year. We are grateful for each step of this journey and we’re excited to get out there and do what we’ve done all year.”

This year’s appearance in the NCAA Championships marks the program’s 33rd overall appearance on the big stage. The top two teams from each of the four regionals (Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan) make up the field of eight teams in the NCAA Semifinals, along with those who qualified as individual competitors.

The eight teams competing for a spot in the NCAA Finals on Thursday are LSU, Oklahoma, Utah, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, California and Stanford.

No. 2 LSU will face No. 3 California, No. 12 Arkansas and Stanford in session one of the NCAA Semifinals on Thursday. No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Utah and No. 8 Alabama make up the other side of the bracket and will compete in the second semifinal session at 8 p.m. CT.

Georgia individual qualifier Lily Smith will also rotate with the Tigers in the semifinals.

The top two teams from each semifinal will advance to the NCAA Championship Final (Final Four) on Saturday, April 20, at 3 p.m. CT, which will be broadcast live on ABC.

Both semifinal competitions in Fort Worth will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with three-time Olympian John Roethlisberger, three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and ESPN reporter Taylor Davis on the call.

In addition, 15 live streams on ESPN+ will surround the televised action on Thursday and Saturday, including apparatus streams and a quad-box option. Samantha Peszek and Bridget Sloan will be the stream commentators on vault and beam and Anastasia Webb and Kennedy Baker will cover bars and floor.

For direct links to every ESPN+ stream, please click here. Live results for the competition will be available via StatBroadcast and can be found here.

Scouting The Opponents

California made their 12th straight – and 28th overall – NCAA Regional appearance this season, and qualified for the seventh NCAA Championships in program history. The Bears entered the postseason as the No. 3 team in the country and won their first outright regular-season Pac-12 Conference championship in program history this season.

Six of Cal’s seven NCAA Championships appearances have come during the Howell/Crandall-Howell era. This is just the second time the Bears have reached nationals in back-to-back seasons as they start the meet on floor.

The Razorbacks return to the NCAA gymnastics championships for the first time in six years and first time under fifth-year head coach Jordyn Wieber. Arkansas will start Thursday’s meet on beam.

Stanford will make their first nationals appearance since the 2016 season and is the first unseeded team to make nationals in its new format (since 2019). The Cardinal will begin the meet on bars.

All teams will rotate in Olympic order.

LSU In The Postseason

This year marks the Tigers 33rd program appearance in the NCAA Championships, including back-to-back appearances under Jay Clark’s tenure.

LSU began their postseason journey in the Fayetteville Regional after being selected as the No. 2 overall seed. The top 36 teams were selected for regional competition based on the national qualifying score (NQS). The Tigers own an NQS of 198.215 heading into the NCAA postseason, their highest in program history.

This year’s NCAA Regional berth for the Tigers marked their 41st overall appearance in the postseason and 39th straight berth for the program.

On day one of competition in Fayetteville, LSU finished first over Minnesota, BYU and Oregon State to advance to the regional final on day two. Minnesota finished in second at the meet to move on alongside the Tigers.

On day two, LSU once again finished in first to win the Fayetteville Regional and secure their spot at nationals. Their score of 198.250 at the meet was the second highest at a regional in program history. Arkansas took the second spot to also advance to Fort Worth, while Kentucky and Minnesota’s journey came to an end.

The other regional hosts this year included Ann Arbor (Michigan), Berkeley (California), and Gainesville (Florida). After advancing out of Fayetteville, LSU will meet the two top finishers from the Berkeley Regional, California and Stanford.

The top two teams from both sessions of the NCAA Semifinals will advance to the championship final on Saturday, April 20 at 3 p.m. CT on ABC.

LSU will start on vault and rotate in Olympic order to bars and beam before finishing on floor in Thursday’s semifinal. Saturday’s rotation order is determined by semifinal finish.

Individual awards and All-Americans will be named at the conclusion of both semifinal sessions on Thursday. Gymnasts that place 1-4 on an event in their respective session will earn first team honors while spots 5-8 will earn second team honors. Individual titles and podium finishes will be based on combined results from both semifinals, and ties will not be broken.

Last Time On The Floor

The Tigers finished on top in the Fayetteville Regional to earn the program’s 14th regional title and secure their spot in the NCAA Championships.

LSU finished first in the meet with a score of 198.250, their second highest at a regional, to defeat No. 10 Arkansas (197.825), No. 7 Kentucky (197.475) and No. 15 Minnesota (197.400).

The Tigers and the Razorbacks finished as the two top performers in the regional final on April 6th to advance to the NCAA Semifinals this Thursday.

LSU started off the regional final on beam, where they scored a 49.450, their fourth highest in program history at a regional. Konnor McClain’s 9.950 earned her the title on the night, her eighth this year and sixth on beam. The Tigers took the early lead in Bud Walton Arena over Minnesota (49.425), Kentucky (49.400) and Arkansas (49.375).

It was a 49.625 for LSU in the second rotation on floor, their third highest score at a regional. The Tigers have recorded two program-best scores on floor across both days of competition at the Fayetteville Regional.

After being named regional floor champion in the second round of competition, Finnegan continued to show out on floor as she finished as the top performer in the finals on Saturday night. The title marks her eighth this year, fifth on floor and 22nd in her career.

LSU posted a 49.550 on vault in the third rotation, the third highest regional score in program history.

Vault was highlighted by Haleigh Bryant’s perfect score was her 10th career on vault, making her the gymnast with the most vault 10’s in LSU history. Her performance earned her the title on the night as she now owns nine vault titles this year.

In the final rotation, the LSU bars squad finished strong with a 49.625, which is their highest regional score.

Bryant continued to have a record night after earning her second 10 at the meet, this time on bars to close out the meet. The perfect score on bars was the first by any LSU gymnast during a regional, and the first time in school history that a Tiger has earned two perfect scores in the same meet at a regional. The senior now owns 18 perfect scores in LSU history with 10 on vault, four on bars, three on floor and one on beam.

With two 10’s on the night, Bryant finished as the top performer on vault, bars and the all-around at the meet with her score of 39.850. Her score on the night was her second highest this year.

Bryant Named AAI Award Winner 

Haleigh Bryant was named the 2024 AAI Award Winner, recognizing her as the top senior gymnast in the nation.

The AAI Award is given annually and is voted on by NCAA women’s gymnastics head coaches throughout the nation. The award, which is sponsored by the American Athletic Inc., is often likened to the Heisman Trophy for Women’s Gymnastics and has become a symbol of excellence in the sport, something that Bryant has been nothing short of during her career with the Tigers.

Bryant was voted this year’s winner over the remaining five finalists: Luisa Blanco (Alabama), Audrey Davis (Oklahoma), Maile O’Keefe (Utah), Gabby Wilson (Michigan) and Raena Worley (Kentucky).

The senior from Cornelius, North Carolina, is the fourth AAI Award winner in program history and joins an elite group of past honorees in Sarah Finnegan (2019), Ashleigh Gnat (2017) and Susan Jackson (2010). LSU has the most AAI winners since 2010 and the most in the Southeastern Conference.

LSU now shares the top spot for most AAI winners in school history with Michigan, UCLA and Utah. Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia and Oregon State all have three.

Bryant is a true example of what it means to be a competitor, teammate, and leader. She has already proven to be one of the best gymnasts in LSU and NCAA history as she continues to lead the Tigers in the postseason.

She enters the NCAA Championships with 31 titles on the year, having won nine on vault, seven on bars, two on beam, four on floor and nine in the all-around to move her career total to 91 (sixth most in LSU history). Her current 33 career vault titles is the second most in program history while her 28 in the all-around is the most by any LSU gymnast in their career.

Just this year, Bryant’s titles on vault, bars and the all-around place in the top-10 for most in a single season by an LSU gymnast.

Bryant has already garnered multiple awards in 2024 as she adds AAI Award Winner to her resume. She was named the SEC Gymnast of the Year for the first time in her career last month, becoming only the sixth gymnast in LSU history to earn the award.

She was the first LSU gymnast to achieve both a gym slam (perfect 10 on every event) and season slam (a perfect 10 on every event in a single season) this year, as she owns eight perfect scores this season and 18 in her career, the most by any gymnast in LSU history and the 10th most in the NCAA.

Bryant was only the 14th gymnast in the NCAA to record a gym slam in their career and the 10th gymnast in NCAA history to achieve a season slam.

Her performance throughout the regular season earned her five first team All-America honors in 2024, moving her career total to 22 (14 regular season, eight NCAA), which is second only to Sarah Finnegan and Rheagan Courville in program history with 23.

Bryant owns 147 scores of 9.900 or better in her career. 73.50% of her scores are above 9.900 while 95.50% are above 9.8000. This year, she has recorded nine meets with scores of 9.9+ or higher on every event and only has two scores lower than a 9.850. She has achieved perfection eight times this season.

She made school history on March 8 as she posted a career high 39.925 in the all-around, which is the highest all-around score by any LSU gymnast, the second-best in SEC history and ties for the fourth best in the NCAA.

In the conference, Bryant was recognized as the SEC Gymnast of the Week six times in 2024, 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 this year.

On top of her SEC Gymnast of the Year honors, Bryant claimed two individual titles for her performance at the 2024 SEC Championships on March 23 to mark her third straight year as an All-SEC member. She had the highest scores on vault and the all-around at the meet and is now a three-time individual SEC Champion.

The senior has helped lead her team to back-to-back nationals appearances as the Tigers continue their journey in the postseason at the NCAA Championships this week.

So far in this postseason, Bryant finished as the top all-arounder in the Fayetteville Regional Final with her score of 39.850. Her night was highlighted with two perfect 10’s on vault and bars, marking the first time in school history that a gymnast has earned two perfect scores in the same meet at regionals and the first LSU gymnast to record a perfect 10.000 on bars in the postseason.

Outside of the gym, she is a two-time Scholastic All-American and three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member as she pursues her degree in sport administration with an anticipated graduation date of May 2024.

Now a four time All-SEC member, three time SEC Individual Champion, and two time Central Region Gymnast of the Year, Bryant will continue to shine in her senior year as she looks to lead her team to their first national championship.

Final Road To Nationals Rankings

The LSU Gymnastics entered the postseason as the No. 2 team in the country. The Tigers placed in the top-five nationally for all 12 weeks of the regular season.

The Tigers own an National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 198.215 and rank in the top-five on all four events. LSU 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.

Haleigh Bryant continues to lead the Tigers as she ranks the top gymnast in the country 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, placing in the top-10 on every event for four straight weeks and 10 weeks in the top-25. She currently ranks first on vault, fourth on bars, eighth on beam and seventh on floor.

Kiya Johnson ranks No. 15 in the all-around with her NQS of 39.570 and No. 5 in the floor rankings with her NQS of 9.970.

Aleah Finnegan and KJ Johnson are amongst the top-20 floor performers in the country. Finnegan 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 owns an NQS of 9.975 on beam to place her at No. 3 on the event nationally. The earned marked her fifth straight week in the top-10 on the event.

Follow the Tigers

Stay up to date with all things LSU Gymnastics by following the team’s social media channels @LSUgym on  Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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