Injuries, not a lack of talent, have kept junior LSU gymnast Lexie Priessman from competing regularly in all four events for the Tigers.
That may soon change.
After doing mostly just uneven bars and vault last season, LSU nudged Priessman back into floor routine this year. The result have been a string of strong performances, culminating in a career high 9.95 Friday at Georgia.
Soon, LSU may put Priessman back on the balance beam, while at the same time giving sophomore all-arounder Kennedi Edney a bit of a rest before the Tigers dive into their postseason meets in March and April.
“She’s done all-around in most of our meets,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said Monday of Edney. “But now we’re increasing what we’re allowing Lexie Priessman to do. We’re going to come back and allow Kennedi to rest a little bit after this Auburn weekend.”
LSU hosts Auburn on Sunday (2:30 p.m., SEC Network) in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Priessman has had eight gymnastics-related surgeries dating back to her elite-level junior career. She won the 2017 SEC bars title on torn knee cartilage. She had offseason surgery on that and on her wrist.
But now she said she feels well enough for more work.
“To literally walk into the gym and say I feel the best I have in a long time feels so good,” Priessman said.
“I started on beam again last week. I did a few routines here and there. It feels good to go up on a four-inch (wide) piece of wood and start doing gymnastics again.”
Priessman isn’t expected to start competing on beam until after the Auburn meet.
Speaking of Auburn …
LSU is on pace for another sellout for Sunday’s meet against Auburn. Fans are encouraged to wear gold Sunday for what has been designated the Gold Meet. There will be an autograph session with LSU gymnasts on the PMAC concourse following the event.
LSU (12-1, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) is going for its second straight unbeaten SEC season. LSU clinched a share of the SEC regular-season title last week. Auburn is 1-5 and 6-7.
It’s RQS time again
Despite a 197.575 score at Georgia that surpassed its season average going in, LSU dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in this week’s national team rankings.
Blame the RQS for that, which kicked in for the first time this week.
RQS stands for Regional Qualifying Score. Teams and gymnasts now take their top three home scores plus their next top three scores anywhere, throw out the top score and average the remaining five.
That means LSU’s 198.075 on Feb. 16 in the Mardi Gras Invitational counts, but the Tigers’ 198.175 two days later against Texas Woman’s University does not.
LSU’s RQS is 197.545, which is actually higher than its total season average (197.492). Oklahoma is No. 1 at 197.855 and UCLA is No. 2 at 197.610. In total season average, UCLA would be behind LSU with a 197.447.
Breaux is not a fan of the system.
“I think everything should count,” she said. “Everything counts in basketball and baseball. We want this level playing field and want it to be fair and all that. Well, make everything count like it does in the other sports.
“You’ve got to do it when the lights go on and the pressure’s on and there’s 12,000 people. That’s when it means something.”
LSU did move up to No. 1 nationally on floor and bars. The Tigers rank No. 3 on beam and No. 5 on vault. Auburn is No. 15 overall.
Hambrick No. 1, Finnegan No. 2
The RQS also means LSU senior Myia Hambrick didn’t have to count a 9.575 Friday when she bounced out of bounds on Georgia’s notoriously springy floor mat. It broke her string of four straight 9.975s, but she’s still No. 1 nationally in the event with an RQS of 9.965.
“Some people on Twitter were like, ‘She messed up and she’s still number one,’” Hambrick said. “Well, RQS happened. Thankfully. That’s the only time that it’s a blessing.”
Junior Sarah Finnegan is now No. 2 nationally in the all-around behind only Oklahoma’s Maggie Nicholls. Finnegan also ranks No. 2 on bars and No. 4 on beam. Hambrick is fifth in the all-around.
Auburn’s top gymnast is junior Abby Milliet. She ranks 11th nationally on beam and 19th on floor.