Members of the LSU gymnastics team had redemption, not necessarily Georgia, on their minds after the NCAA announced the participants Monday for the six regionals to be held April 2.
Because LSU is ranked third in the nation, the Tigers already knew they would be in the regionals as a No. 1 seed.
The only question was where coach D-D Breaux and her team, which finished third at the Southeastern Conference championships on Saturday night, would wind up.
When the first five sites were announced without seeing its name appear on the huge TV screen in its new practice facility, LSU (18-4) knew it would be going back to the scene of its only dual-meet loss this season — Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia — at 3 p.m. on April 2.
Seconds later, Breaux was already talking about redemption when she addressed her team.
“We’re all just excited,” senior Jessica Savona said. “It’s a chance to redeem ourselves, and just go out there and do what we know how to do.”
In its most recent visit to Stegeman Coliseum on Feb. 13, LSU posted its third-lowest score of seven SEC regular-season competitions. That night, the Tigers had a 196.800, while the host GymDogs won with a 197.525.
“We went to Georgia in a high-pressure environment and did not have a great meet,” Breaux said. “It was a little reminiscent of what happened at the SEC championships with the lack of experience our freshman class has.
“We were relying on their experience at an international level, and the emotional pressure kind of played on us at those meets,” she said. “So going into postseason, we think we’ll be a little more prepared for the (emotional) thinks you have to go through to be prepared for these next two meets.”
The top two teams from the six regionals will advance to the national semifinals to be held April 15 in Fort Worth, Texas.
The three highest-scoring teams from the two semifinal sessions will go on to vie for the national title in the Super Six championships the following evening.
In addition to second-seeded and ninth-ranked Georgia, LSU will face No. 13 Oregon State, which earned the No. 3 seed in the region, as well as 22nd-ranked Arizona, George Washington University and Michigan State.
It will be the 32nd consecutive regional for LSU and 34th overall appearance for the program.
LSU will go in with a regional qualifying score of 197.695, while Georgia has a 197.010 and Oregon State a 196.575. They are followed by Arizona (196.155), GWU (195.905) and Michigan State (195.385).
While they wanted to go north to either the Minneapolis or Iowa City regionals, the Tigers seemed ready to go and make amends for that earlier trip to Athens.
“We’re excited to get back in their environment,” said junior Ashleigh Gnat, who has recorded six 10s this season. “They got us there the last time, so we’re excited to get back in there. It’s almost like a do-over; this time we just have to hit them a little harder. Plus we’re very hungry after the SEC meet.”
Competing in Athens should be a big advantage for the Tigers despite their earlier troubles, Gnat said.
“It feels like yesterday that we were there at Georgia,” she said. “The whole team was just talking about how we know their equipment and we know the environment we’re going to be in. We’re going to be comfortable there this time, so it’s a big advantage for us.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.