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Gymnastics Celebrates National Championship Season At Annual Banquet

Gymnastics Celebrates National Championship Season At Annual Banquet

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Gymnastics team celebrated the program’s first national championship at their annual banquet on Friday evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The LSU Gymnastics team made history this year when they brought home the program’s first national title on Saturday, April 20th at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. From an undefeated home season to three consecutive sold out crowds, this season has been nothing short of amazing for the Tigers, and none of it would be possible without Tiger Nation.

This year’s banquet was the second under head coach Jay Clark as the program welcomed staff, family, friends, and boosters to recognize all of the accomplishments from the 2024 season. In typical record breaking fashion, the night was highlighted with over 500 attendees, the largest in banquet history. 

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

The program began by recognizing this year’s letterwinners, followed by senior awards. This year’s senior honorees were Elena Arenas, Sierra Ballard, Haleigh Bryant, Chase Brock, Olivia Dunne, Kiya Johnson, Jillian Hoffman, Kai Rivers, Alyona Shchennikova, Cammy Hall and Savannah Schoenherr. 

Whether they were here one year or five years, each of these seniors had a lasting impact on the LSU Gymnastics program. 

Ballard won this year’s Dee Dee Fulmer Gibert Coaches Award. For whom this award is named, Gilbert was an advocate for women’s athletics at LSU and a fervent supporter of the gymnastics program. This award began in her honor in 1998 and is presented annually to the gymnast that consistently demonstrates a strong commitment to academic and athletic excellence. 

Throughout LSU gymnastics history there have been many athletes who have embodied a high level of selflessness in order to take our team to the next level. Last year, this award was named after Olivia Gunter, the ultimate example of what it means to embrace your role.

This year, Ashleigh Gnat presented Kai Rivers as the winner of the OG Eye of the Tiger Award for her demonstration of selflessness and supporting her teammates all year long. 

The next award of the night was the 10.0 Award, which goes to the gymnast who demonstrated a perfect 10 work ethic and carried an attitude of excellence with them every day in practice. That gymnast was sophomore Ashley Cowan. 

Courtney McCool Griffeth presented the second annual consistency award to freshman Amari Drayton, who was consistent in training and in competition all year long and had a rock-solid mindset in any environment.

Garrett Griffeth presented the returner of the year award to Kiya Johnson. She utilized her down time throughout summer to ensure that she primed herself to be in the best position possible this season after suffering an injury last year. 

The Newcomer of the Year is someone who came in and made an immediate impact on the competition floor, and freshman Konnor McClain did just that. This year, Konnor was one of the top beam performers in the country as she ranked third on the event as only a freshman. She recorded three perfect scores across two events this year, as she was the only gymnast to earn a perfect score at the SEC Championships. 

In only her first year as a Tiger, she claimed All-SEC, All-Freshman, three All-America honors and SEC Beam Champion status.

Every year, there is always one person who had a direct impact on each lineup and helped contribute to the success of the team. The Impact Players of the Year are awarded to the gymnast who consistently performed for their team and is chosen by each individual event coach. Those winners were KJ Johnson on vault, Savannah Schoenherr on bars, Konnor McClain on beam and Kiya Johnson on floor.

There were two new awards at this year’s banquet, the Clutch Performance Award as well as the Coaches Choice Award. Those two award winners were junior Aleah Finnegan and senior Olivia Dunne. 

An unforgettable beam routine earned Finnegan the first annual Clutch Performance Award. She showed out for her team when she needed to and had a clutch performance in the NCAA Championship Finals that clinched the program’s first national title. 

The coaches award recognized Dunne as the gymnast that went about things the right way, had a good attitude, and demonstrated readiness at any moment. The senior entered various lineups in various spots and didn’t skip a beat.

To close out the night, Bryant was recognized as this year’s MVP to no one’s surprise. The senior led her team to their first national championship as she showed out for the Tigers all season long, garnering multiple honors throughout the year. She is the prime example of what an LSU Gymnast should be.

Bryant is the 2024 NCAA All-Around Champion, AAI Award Winner, SEC Gymnast of the Year and finalist for the Honda Sport Award for the second consecutive year. She earned 10 combined All-America honors in 2024, becoming the first LSU gymnast to record All-America honors on every event and the all-around in both the regular season and the postseason.

That’s not all. In a historical senior season, Bryant was also the first LSU Gymnast to achieve both a gym slam and season slam and posted the highest all-around score in school history (39.925). 

The 2024 Individual SEC Champions, All-SEC members, NCAA Champions and All-Americans were also recognized for their accomplishments on the floor this year. 

2024 LSU Gymnastics Award Winners:

SEC Academic Honor Roll: Elena Arenas, Sierra Ballard, Annie Beard, Chase Brock, Haleigh Bryant, Ashley Cowan, Olivia Dunne, Cammy Hall, KJ Johnson, Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers, Alyona Shchennikova, Tori Tatum, Bryce Wilson
L-Club Captains: Sierra Ballard, Alyona Shchennikova
Dee Dee Fulmer: Sierra Ballard
SEC Community Service: Sierra Ballard
OG Eye of the Tiger Award: Kai Rivers
10.0 Award: Ashley Cowan
Consistency Award: Amari Drayton
All-SEC: Haleigh Bryant, Kiya Johnson, Ashley Cowan, KJ Johnson, Konnor McClain
SEC Gymnast of the Year: Haleigh Bryant
NCAA All-Americans: Haleigh Bryant, Aleah Finnegan, Kiya Johnson, Savannah Schoenherr, KJ Johnson, Konnor McClain, Sierra Ballard
NCAA Champions: Haleigh Bryant, Aleah Finnegan
Returner of the Year: Kiya Johnson
Newcomer of the Year: Konnor McClain
Vault Impact Player of the Year: KJ Johnson
Bars Impact Player of the Year: Savannah Schoenherr
Beam Impact Player of the Year: Konnor McClain
Floor Impact Player of the Year: Kiya Johnson
Clutch Performance Award: Aleah Finnegan
Coaches Award: Olivia Dunne
MVP: Haleigh Bryant