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Gymnastics Advances to NCAA Championship Final

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Gymnastics Advances to NCAA Championship Final

FORT WORTH, Texas– The No. 2 LSU Gymnastics team (28-3, 5-2) advanced to the NCAA Championship finals for the 10th time in school history after finishing first in NCAA Semifinal I with a score of 198.1125, Thursday afternoon in Dickies Arena.

“We’re obviously thrilled to be back in the finals again for the second year in a row.  It never gets old to advance to this point. I’m proud of how this team has done all year long,” said head coach Jay Clark.

“They took the lessons learned and the attributes needed from last year and used them this year to be consistently successful. A lot of that has to do with just doing it for each other and staying focused on the bigger picture. There’s so many great stories and so many individuals on this team that have contributed in ways that aren’t seen.”

The team score marked the second highest for the LSU Gymnastics program at NCAA Championships. LSU and California (197.7125) advanced out of the first semifinal of the day and will compete for the national championship at 3 p.m. CT Saturday on ABC. The Tigers will begin on floor in the final and take on the top two teams from semifinal II, which features Oklahoma, Utah, Florida and Alabama. 

Senior Haleigh Bryant led the way in the meet for the Tigers with an all-around score of 39.7125 for the highest in a semifinal in school history. Bryant’s all around, bars and beam scores as well as Aleah Finnegan’s floor score sit at the top of the first semifinal and will be in contention for an individual NCAA title following semifinal II. 

The Tigers opened the meet with a 49.325 on vault. KJ Johnson and Chase Brock each scored a 9.825 in the first and second spots. Amari Drayton earned a 9.8125 in her NCAA Championships debut. Savannah Schoenherr and Haleigh Bryant each earned a 9.90 in the fourth and sixth spots and Kiya Johnson earned a 9.875 in the fifth spot of the lineup to put LSU in second behind California after one rotation. 

LSU posted their second highest nationals score on bars in the second rotation. Alexis Jeffrey led off with a 9.8125 while Ashley Cowan followed with a strong 9.875 routine. Kiya Johnson, a veteran in the bars lineup, held down the third spot with her 9.900. In her NCAA Championships debut, Konnor McClain scored a 9.9125 followed by Schoenherr’s 9.8625 in the fifth spot. Bryant anchored with a team high 9.925 to close out the Tigers’ 49.475 rotation and push the team to first at the halfway point. 

The LSU beam squad delivered with five scores of 9.90 or higher for a 49.5875 and the  program’s second-highest nationals score on the event. Sierra Ballard opened with a 9.90 followed by a career high 9.925 from Schoenherr. McClain scored a 9.925 and was followed by a 9.90 from Kiya Johnson. Bryant posted a 9.95, the third-highest score for an LSU gymnast at NCAA Championships and the best in a semifinal. Aleah Finnegan wrapped up the event for the Tigers with a 9.8875. 

The floor team set the LSU record for highest event score at NCAA Championships with a 49.725 to leave no doubt. McClain opened the final rotation with a 9.9375 and Drayton scored a 9.8875. KJ Johnson delivered a 9.95 in the third spot and Finnegan followed with a 9.9626 to match the best on the event at an NCAA Championship. Bryant and Kiya Johnson each ended the afternoon with a 9.9375.

The Tigers will look to bring home the program’s first national title on Saturday as they compete against the top two finishers in Thursday’s evening session.

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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