Myia Hambrick admitted it: Her gymnastics was suffering from a midseason “virus” of missteps and performances not up to her typically high standards.
But LSU’s coaching staff may have found an anecdote, just in time for the No. 2-ranked Tigers’ postseason run.
Typically one of LSU’s most consistent gymnasts, Hambrick stumbled to a pair of low scores on beam (9.175) and floor (9.20) in February during the Mardi Gras Invitational against Oklahoma, Georgia and Missouri. She had a score of 9.70 on beam two days later at home against George Washington and Iowa, and a 9.725 on bars March 5 against Florida.
The solution in the Tigers’ regular-season finale last Friday against New Hampshire, LSU coach D-D Breaux said, was not to try to make Hambrick do something harder. Instead, it was to shave off a bit of difficulty on the team’s first event: vault.
“We tried to get her to do a 10.0 start value on vault and we backed off,” Breaux said. “We said, ‘Punt.’ Do the full turn. She relaxed and had a great competition.”
Hambrick traded her 1½ turn for a full turn on vault, giving her a maximum score of 9.95. The result was a nearly flawless 9.90 that was an indication of how the rest of her meet would go.
“Whenever you do a good first event, no matter what it is, it sets a tone,” Hambrick said. “For me to go out there and do a good vault is important.”
Hambrick followed that with a solid 9.875 on bars, another 9.90 on beam and a 9.95 on floor that equaled her career high on the event and tied teammate Ashleigh Gnat for first place. Hambrick’s all-around score of 39.625 was just behind Gnat’s winning 39.700, but it still tied her career best as well.
“It’s a great way to end the season on a high note,” Hambrick said. “There have been inconsistencies, but everyone goes through things like that during their career. I wasn’t too worried about it, you just come in here and trust the process. It’s like when you get a virus and you have to let it run its course. You’re taking your medicine and doing what you can.”
A “healthy” Hambrick is what LSU needs if the Tigers are to capture their first SEC championship meet title since 1981. LSU is coming off the SEC’s inaugural regular-season championship and goes into Saturday’s meet (5 p.m. CDT, SEC Network) as the top seed. The No. 2-ranked Tigers are in the evening session with No. 4 Florida, No. 6 Alabama and No. 8 Georgia.
“We want this meet like any other we’ve competed in,” Hambrick said. “To win this conference is a big accomplishment. It’s the hardest conference in the entire country. To say you’re regular-season champions or tournament champions, or whatever they’re going to call it, is great.”
SEC Network ‘team streams’
In addition to the SEC championship telecast on the SEC Network, fans will be able to hone in on their individual gymnasts with team-specific streams via SECNetwork+.
The “team streams” will feature real-time scores for each competitor as well as score updates from the other teams in the rotation. There will be fifth feed that shows all four apparatuses — vault, bars, beam and floor — simultaneously.
The “team streams” will be available through WatchESPN.com or the Watch ESPN app. The SEC Network also plans a look back at the championship meet with new vantage points and sound, airing at 6 p.m. Wednesday.