Ianeke Espindola’s Facebook posts are incessant. Her daughter, LSU gymnast Randii Wyrick, is returning home to Las Vegas Thursday and Espindola wants to make sure everyone’s there to see her make one final trip home as a Tiger.
“It’ll be like a home meet,” said Wyrick, who estimated about a hundred family and friends would be in the stands. “We’re going to have a lot of people rooting us on. But it’s another meet, we’re going to go in there and do what we do.”
Now tied atop the national rankings with Michigan, the Tigers will combat a short week and take on No. 23 N.C. State at 9 p.m. Thursday in the South Point Hotel at the Lady Luck Invitational.
Wyrick returns home five days removed from her best performance as an LSU gymnast — two career-high performances on floor (9.875) and vault (9.900) to go along with a 9.725 on bars.
“What she did on Saturday was really awesome because I know she’s been struggling a bit on floor and then she just went out there and delivered an amazing routine,” said junior Shae Zamardi.
Both Zamardi and Wyrick gave the Tigers a somewhat unexpected boost in their 196.950-196.725 victory over the Sooners.
Zamardi, a bars specialist who had never competed a floor routine in her three-year LSU career, stepped into the lineup with a 9.925 that set up McKenna Kelley and Ashleigh Gnat’s meet-closing routines.
“When we really think about it, we have 10 people on each event that can go in at anytime,” Wyrick said. “It’s really nice to have that cushion that, no matter what, if something were to happen, somebody else could go in the lineup and we’d be just fine.”
For her exploits, Zamardi, who also got a team-high tying 9.850 on bars, was named the SEC specialist of the week. She may again be called upon on Thursday as both Kelley and Jessica Savona nurse ankle injuries.
“I think it states the level of maturity of our upperclassmen and these young ladies are willing to take the lead, grow their gymnastics and not just maintain the status quo,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “I think Randii’s performance on Saturday was probably the best three events she’s put together in any competition of her career.
Myia Hambrick, who captured her first career all-around title against Oklahoma, was named SEC co-gymnast of the week while Sarah Finnegan got SEC freshman of the week honors for her performance on bars and beam.
Breaux also mentioned freshman Julianna Cannamela, who competed two exhibition routines against Oklahoma, as a floor option if both Kelley and Savona are held out, again accenting the team’s depth despite the losses of Rheagan Courville, Jessie Jordan and Lloimincia Hall.
“I knew that as great as those kids were last year we were losing, certainly no slight on them, I think it was overblown,” associate head coach Jay Clark said. “We had kids that could go in (last year). We were deep last year, but we didn’t use it all the time. That’s the mark of a team and a program that can build a tradition and get over the hump and win a championship.”