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Gymnastics Alyona Shchennikova Announces Return For Final Season

by Harrison Valentine
Gymnastics Alyona Shchennikova Announces Return For Final Season

BATON ROUGE – Alyona Shchennikova, a fifth-year senior from Evergreen, Colorado, has announced she will be returning to LSU Gymnastics for her final season of eligibility in 2025.

“I’m not done yet,” Shchennikova said. “I have so much more to give. The hardest part for an athlete is knowing when to hang it up and I just had a gut feeling. I was like, this isn’t how the story can end.”

Prior to an unexpected injury that kept her away from competition this year, Shchennikova competed in all four events for the Tigers and appeared in the all-around 11 times in 2023, averaging a 9.754 on vault, 9.807 on bars, 9.816 on beam, 9.893 on floor, and 39.382 in the all around for the season.

The amount of adversity and injuries that the program dealt with a year ago, Shchennikova says, allowed her to overcome some of the obstacles, both physically and mentally, that were presented as a senior during her rehab process.

“I think everything happens for a reason,” Shchennikova said. “My friends getting hurt prepared me for my injury this year because, honestly, I don’t think I would have made it without them helping me through it. They knew exactly what I was going through.”

“This year has definitely helped me grow as a person,” Shchennikova added. “I saw gymnastics from a different point of view. I was definitely a lot more nervous for my team, watching on the side since I wasn’t doing it. I wanted them to succeed. Being their biggest cheerleader was an amazing role, and I’m really glad I got to do it, but it also made me realize that it’s a position that I don’t want to be in again.”

Shchennikova was there for her teammates every second of the way in 2024, having a front row seat to the program’s first NCAA title. While it may have looked different then what she imagined, she will forever be a national champion, because none of it could have been done without her contributions on and off the floor over the last five years.

She now joins Haleigh Bryant and Sierra Ballard as seniors that have announced their return for a final year of eligibility. It’s the culture being established under head coach Jay Clark, combined with the chance to continue the winning tradition of LSU Gymnastics, that has made the decision to stay an easy one.

“I think it just speaks volumes about the school, the culture, the team, everything about the purple and gold,” Shchennikova said on the seniors returning. “You can’t get rid of me just yet.”

Shchennikova, a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, competed on vault in every competition and in all but one on bars and floor in 2023 as a junior, earning eight scores of 9.900+ or higher on floor. She also recorded her season high of 9.875 on beam in four meets.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Shchennikova said. There’s a lot of goals. But ultimately, I just want to do gymnastics one more time, end it the way I want to end it, and not have it forced to be ended.”

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