Lloimincia Hall remembers her first LSU gymnastics meet with perfect clarity. She won the all-around title with a 39.200. The Tigers scored a 195.025 to defeat Auburn — an anemic score by the 2015 team’s standards.
But when she was recalling the meet Wednesday, Hall never mentioned a score. She remembered the tiger head. It’s a staple at every gymnastics meet in the PMAC, a large blow-up head with its mouth agape where the Tiger gymnasts run out.
“That’s when we had a little strut,” Hall said. “We didn’t run out like we do now.”
For a while, Hall, recruited heavily by northern schools and Alabama, said she was unsure what animal head she’d be lining up in.
Hall’s dream school was Alabama. It heavily recruited the Dallas native up until her junior year of high school, when she switched training gyms. The Crimson Tide stopped their pursuit of the powerful gymnast, but LSU stayed consistent.
“Truly (my family) was Roll Tide rollin’,” Hall said. “At the time they said I wasn’t good enough, and I didn’t have the Alabama-type structure. LSU was the furthest thing from our minds.
“I chose here, and this was the best time of our lives.”
Tonight will be the last time Hall runs through the tiger head, joining classmates Rheagan Courville and Jessie Jordan along with transfers Scarlett Williams and Britney Ranzy for senior night against No. 16 Minnesota in the PMAC at 7:30 p.m.
Courville, Hall and Jordan have combined for 26 All-American titles at LSU and led the Tigers to two Super Six appearances in three tries. When the trio arrived in Baton Rouge as freshmen, they weren’t oblivious to their talent but did lag behind on what they could achieve with it.
“We didn’t have clear goals,” Jordan said. “We didn’t know what an All-American was. We didn’t know that you had to make the Super Six to win a national championship.
“But I think all of us were pretty clear on the fact that we wanted to be the best. We were going to do whatever in our power to become the best.”
After their freshman season, which saw Courville finish seventh in the NCAA vault championships and the Tigers finish sixth in the NCAA semifinals, things became more clear.
“It kind of put it in perspective of how much work that took freshman year,” Courville said. “We didn’t really accomplish what we wanted to; we really didn’t get close. We realized how much more we needed to do and how many people we needed on board with us.”
Add two transfers — Ranzy from Oregon State after the 2011 season and Williams from Arkansas this season — and the hiring of assistant coach Jay Clark from Georgia in 2012 and the trio had everyone on board.
Though Ranzy and Williams aren’t mainstays in the lineup, LSU coach D-D Breaux relies on the two to be ready.
Take last week’s victory at Alabama. Williams filled in for Courville, who was battling flu-like symptoms, and hit a season-high 9.825 to hold the rotation together.
“The love of my life is going on beam, even if its four inches wide,” Williams, a St. Joseph’s Academy graduate, said. “I just love it up there, love it when the crowd is cheering. I can internalize and focus more and even my teammates were kind of scared after (the routine at Alabama) because I was so pumped.”
The crowd at that meet in Tuscaloosa is originally what drew Hall in. She and her family would attend as many Crimson Tide meets as possible and marveled at the setup. Fans roared throughout the meet and the whole time seemed like a production.
Reflecting back on Wednesday, Courville said she saw then what LSU enjoys now.
“(This senior class) changed the culture of LSU gymnastics,” Courville said. “It changed how people look at us and the image we had.”