The score Friday was 197.150 for the LSU gymnastics team and 196.375 for Missouri. It was a comfortable win for the Tigers (7-1 overall, 5-0 Southeastern Conference), who remained perfect in their quest for a second straight regular-season league championship with two SEC meets to go.
But it was the Missouri Tigers who seemed happier with their showing than the LSU Tigers. LSU recorded its 29th straight team score of 197 or better and was on pace for a season-high score before having to count one of two falls on balance beam.
Now, with a hectic weekend of two meets in three days, the Tigers are trying to balance a lot of objectives, among them resting and getting some valuable competitive experience for a wider cast of gymnasts.
The most pressing goal, however, is improving the scores to be a legitimate national championship contender by season’s end.
“If you can make lemonade out of not being able to hit beam, then we made lemonade,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “We won the meet, had the victory, but not a championship performance. We’ve got to do better.”
LSU returns to the state of Missouri for Friday’s Mardi Gras Invitational at 6:30 p.m. in St. Charles, outside St. Louis. The Tigers will compete against No. 8 Arkansas and No. 20 Missouri of the SEC as well as No. 21 George Washington, though the results will not count in the SEC standings.
LSU then returns home Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. non-conference meet against Texas Woman’s University.
The elusive 10
For the third straight week, LSU senior Myia Hambrick scored a 9.975 on floor exercise. It was more than enough to help her remain ranked No. 1 nationally in the event, but her first career perfect 10 remained out of her grasp.
Breaux thought Hambrick was perfect, but Hambrick admitted that she knew she wasn’t.
She said the amplitude, or height, of the flip on her second pass wasn’t what judges look for.
“If those judges had seen me before and saw that, they probably would have taken off something,” Hambrick said.
That said, one of the two judges gave her a 10 while the other gave her a 9.95.
“I like half of that panel,” Breaux said.
Hambrick is sixth nationally in the all-around and 12th on uneven bars.
LSU No. 4 nationally
For the second straight week the Tigers dropped a notch in the national rankings, moving from No. 3 to No. 4. LSU (197.267 average) started the season No. 1 in the rankings, which are based strictly on an average of meet scores.
Two-time defending NCAA champion Oklahoma is again No. 1 at 197.880, followed by UCLA (197.346) and Utah (197.272), which moved up a spot. Florida is No. 5 (197.125).
Junior Sarah Finnegan is fourth in the all-around and tied for fifth on uneven bars. She’s tied for 11th nationally on floor and 13th on balance beam. Junior Lexie Priessman is also 13th on bars.
How to watch this weekend
Both the Mardi Gras Invitational and the LSU-TWU meet will be streamed online only.
The Mardi Gras Inviational is available on FloGymnastics.com. The website charges $147 per year ($12.25 per month) or $29.99 for a single month’s content.
The LSU-TWU meet is on SECNetwork+, available through WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN app.