D-D Breaux has her quirks. To her, momentum is labeled a drug – she says her team took it in spoonfuls in Saturday’s upset of Oklahoma. Gymnasts often talk of the “purple zone,” the state of mind Breaux expect her athletes to have in big meets.
She’s added a new, if not trite, adage to this 2015-2016 season –unendingly calling it a marathon, not a sprint.
So when the newest rankings were released Monday that showed her Tigers alongside Michigan at No. 1 after the season-opening win, Breaux relied on the axiom when addressing her team at its Monday afternoon workout.
“Being No. 1 is great and we really appreciate it and certainly hold it in high reverence,” Breaux said. “But it’s not a sprint. This is just a small piece of our marathon journey.”
It is just the seventh time in program history the Tigers have been ranked No. 1 and the first time since 2014.
The rankings, which are calculated by averaging final team scores for the first few weeks of the season, reflect the first weekend of competition across the country and, for Michigan, two competitions.
After the first few weeks of the season, the poll moves to using regional qualifying scores. Regional qualifying scores are calculated by taking the top six scores of a team and one of its all-around competitors, dropping the highest one, and averaging the other five.
The nation’s coaches voted upon the preseason poll, which ranked LSU No. 5 and Oklahoma No. 1. Michigan was No. 7.
The Wolverines were the only team in the country to outscore LSU’s 196.950 with a 196.975 in the Cancun Classic last weekend. They defeated Georgia on Saturday with a 196.925 and that averaged with the Cancun Classic score to tie with the Tigers.
Oklahoma dropped to No. 4 while fellow SEC foe Florida is just behind LSU and Michigan with an opening meet score of 196.825.
On a short week, LSU will travel to Las Vegas for the Lady Luck Invitational on Thursday against North Carolina State.
“We’re really excited we’re No. 1, but today when we walk into the gym, that’s not what’s on our mind,” senior Shae Zamardi said. “That’s not what we’re walking in here with. We’re walking in with ‘How are we going to make ourselves better, how are we going to prepare ourselves for Vegas and what can we do to keep succeeding this way?’”
Finnegan sets school record; Gnat at No. 2
Ashleigh Gnat, who filled in for the hobbled Jessica Savona as floor anchor on Saturday, is the highest ranked Tiger in any event, coming in at No. 2 on floor with her 9.950 that also took the meet title.
Freshman Sarah Finnegan comes in at No. 3 on balance beam after her 9.925 took the meet title and set an LSU record. The score was the highest career debut on balance beam for any LSU gymnast in school history.
Myia Hambrick, who won her first career all-around title on Saturday with a 39.450, is at No. 4 in the all-around rankings. Gnat is fifth.