Like the other residents of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, the LSU gymnastics program has hung its share of banners from the catwalk high above the floor.
There are banners for the Tigers’ NCAA appearances and their four trips to the Super Six, the gymnastics version of the Final Four or College World Series, and LSU’s NCAA individual event champions.
There is also one banner, perhaps a bit dustier than the rest, commemorating LSU’s lone Southeastern Conference championship back in 1981. The title predates even the first NCAA championship competition a year later.
“Yes, very aware,” said Baton Rouge senior Rheagan Courville when asked if they know about LSU’s one and only SEC title. “We really have made such strides each year and have gotten so close. We know what we need to do as a team. We know if we do what we’ve been doing all year it’s good enough to win.”
LSU coach D-D Breaux feeds the desire to finally add another title to the banner, but even though her Tigers just went undefeated in SEC regular-season meets for the first time ever, she knows it won’t be easy.
“The stars have to line up,” Breaux said. “Everything has to be good, everything has to be right. We have to have our best meet, because you’re talking about four of the best teams on the floor at the same time. There’s not just two-tenths of difference between the four teams. That says a lot for the quality and parity in this conference. We’re excited to be in this elite conversation.”
The championships will be shown online on SEC Network+ at 1 p.m. CDT, with LSU’s rotation beginning at 5 p.m. Live audio will also be streamed free of charge in the GeauxZone at LSUSports.net.
Just how tough is the SEC? Despite the fact LSU went 7-0 in conference this season, the Tigers are seeded second behind Florida because of their score-based national rankings.
Florida is No. 2 in the national rankings with a 197.750 average, with LSU right behind at 197.630. Defending SEC champion Alabama is ranked No. 5 and Auburn No. 8.
Those four teams will participate in the evening rotation, with Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas going in the afternoon session.
A team from either session can win the title.
The Tigers are led into the meet by three top-20 all-arounders: No. 4 Jessie Jordan, No. 8 Courville and No. 18 Ashleigh Gnat.
Because of a lingering hip injury there was a question whether Courville would compete in all four all-around events, but as of Friday she was expected to do so.
“I’m trying to make sure I take it slow enough that I keep making progress and don’t hurt anything more,” Courville said. “I’m feeling great. I don’t feel anything in my hip right now is holding me back. It’s getting back to the standards I have to compete in.”
LSU is ranked No. 1 on floor exercise, led by the nation’s No. 1 floor performer in Lloimincia Hall. However, because LSU is seeded No. 2 in the meet the Tigers won’t finish on their signature event but will wrap up the night on vault instead.
Despite that, Courville said the Tigers are ready to bring home the team title.
“We’re going to let this undefeated SEC season give us motivation to put together a complete meet and make this our statement bringing us into nationals,” she said. “It really is a huge goal of ours to win an SEC title.”
Jordan earns SEC honor
Jordan was named Friday to the eight-person SEC Community Service team.
The team leader in service hours, Jordan has volunteered with a variety of charities, is director of programming for LSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and is a member of the LSU Leadership Academy.
Order of competition
LSU: Bars, beam, floor, vault
Florida: Vault, bars, beam, floor
Auburn: Floor, vault, bars, beam
Alabama: Beam, floor, vault, bars
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.