TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — An already historic season for the LSU gymnastics team reached another milestone Friday night as the Tigers edged Alabama 197.350-197.225 to finish undefeated in the Southeastern Conference for the first time.
“It’s huge,” coach D-D Breaux said. “There’s so much parity. This is such a great conference; every team on any given night. To be able to do this, this team is mature, and we made mistakes tonight, but every mistake we made, we countered it then with a sterling performance, and I think that was the difference.”
Alabama jumped to an early lead on vault when a pair of 9.9s by senior Kaitlyn Clark and junior Lauren Beers led the Crimson Tide to a 49.375. In the Tigers’ first rotation, a trio of 9.875s by Ashleigh Gnat, Jessie Jordan and Rheagan Courville paced LSU to a 49.3.
LSU claimed the lead at the midpoint of the meet, matching the Crimson Tide’s vault score while Alabama scored a 49.225 on bars, led by Amanda Jetter’s 9.9. A rare fall from the bars by junior all-arounder Lauren Beers saw the Crimson Tide miss a chance to better its lowest score since Jan. 23, when Alabama hosted then-No. 1 Florida.
Heading into the third rotation leading 98.675-98.6, LSU consolidated its advantage, riding a 9.925 by Jessie Jordan to a 49.475 on floor. Alabama couldn’t break 9.85 on beam to score a 49.225, its third lowest of the season and lowest since the second week, when the Crimson Tide was forced to count a fall.
With a score of 49.2 on beam, LSU was able to weather Alabama’s last onslaught on floor exercise when Lloimincia Hall’s 9.9 all but clinched the meet for the Tigers. After stringing together three 9.9s on floor exercise, the meet came down to the last routine: Beers on the floor.
The junior would have needed to better her career-best 9.95, needing a 9.975 or better. Instead, the junior scored just a 9.475 after being forced to improvise the last pass of her routine after botching one of her earlier passes.
In a rare turn, senior Jessie Jordan won the floor exercise instead of 28-time event winner Hall, bettering Hall’s score en route to an all-around victory and a score of 39.575, equalling her career-best. Senior Rheagan Courville was limited to only two events — vault and bars — with an illness, the first time the Baton Rouge native did not compete in the all-around this season.
“I think I did well, and I think my team did well,” Jordan said. “We fought to the end and we overcame some adversity with Rheagan getting sick this week. We came out with a win and undefeated in the SEC, so that’s something, definitely, to be proud of.”
The Tigers will return home to host Minnesota in their final home meet before the SEC championship meet in Duluth, Georgia.
“We’ve had great crowds at home,” Breaux said. “We’ve created a buzz, and we’ve created this kind of energy and excitement at home, and I think what we’ve done this season at home really prepared our kids to come here. This was like no big deal.”