FORT WORTH, Texas — The LSU Tigers go for the team gymnastics championship Saturday night, but Sarah Finnegan and Kennedi Edney are already going home with trophies.
Finnegan won the NCAA individual uneven bars title Friday with a 9.95. Edney shared the NCAA vault title three other gymnasts, also at 9.95.
The titles are the 14th and 15th NCAA individual championships in program history.
Finnegan and Edney also won those same NCAA titles in 2017 in St. Louis. They join Susan Jackson (three titles), Ashleigh Clare-Kearney and Rheagan Courville (two each) as the only multiple national champions in program history.
Finnegan’s score, coming in the final routine of Friday’s first semifinal at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, held up throughout the Friday night’s Semifinal II. Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols and Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler tied for second a 9.9375.
Finnegan already won the AAI Award on Wednesday, given annually to the nation’s top senior gymnast, expected someone to surpass her score.
“I knew in the second session there were a lot of great bar workers,” Finnegan said. “So I thought someone might pass me or it might be tied.”
Edney’s 9.95 on vault tied her for first in the event in Semifinal I with UCLA’s Kyla Ross. Nichols and Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne matched that score in Semifinal II.
“I didn’t know if it would hold up,” Edney said.
Breaux wins her 800th
LSU's biggest meet of the season marked yet another career milestone for coach D-D Breaux.
LSU finished second to UCLA in Friday’s first NCAA gymnastics championship semifinal and ahead of Michigan and Utah. The Tigers thus have a 2-1 record in the regional, making them 26-4 this season and securing Breaux’s 799th and 800th career victories. Her all-time record is 800-424-7.
The dean of all Southeastern Conference coaches, Breaux is completing her 42nd season as LSU’s only gymnastics coach. She broke a tie at the start of the 2019 campaign with legendary Kentucky basketball coach Adolph Rupp to become the longest-tenured SEC coach in any sport.
Six LSU gymnasts earned a total of 12 All-American honors from Friday’s semifinal:
- Edney: vault, bars, floor, all-around (17 career All-American honors)
- Finnegan: vault, bars, beam, all-around (23-time All-American)
- Sarah Edwards: vault (first-time All-American)
- Julianna Cannamela: vault (two-time All-American)
- Ruby Harrold: bars (first-time)
- McKenna Kelley: floor (four-time All-American)
The top eight gymnasts and ties in each semifinal achieve All-American status.
LSU draws Olympic rotation
The Tigers started Friday on beam, arguably the toughest of gymnastics’ four events, because of a blind draw.
The same blind draw gave LSU the so-called Olympic rotation for Saturday’s final: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise, which is the rotation the Tigers have for every home meet.
The Bridget bump
In a season in which LSU has had to navigate around all sorts of injuries, the one that almost took out sophomore Bridget Dean might have been the ultimate pain.
Dean apparently bumped her head Thursday night at the pre-chamionship banquet, badly enough she was for a time questionable to compete Friday.
“I thought, ‘What next?’ ” Breaux said.
Fortunately, Dean recovered and competed on beam, scoring a 9.775 that helped stabilize LSU on the event after Christina Desiderio fell in the lead off spot and scored a 9.1125.
Missing man formation
As expected, longtime LSU assistant coach Bob Moore was a no show, staying home to be with his wife Sandra after she underwent emergency surgery Wednesday morning for a brain aneurysm. Breaux said Moore is recovering nicely.
Associate head coach Jay Clark took Moore’s place spotting LSU’s gymnasts on vault. Moore also expected to stay home for the final, but Clark said he wouldn’t be surprised if Moore decided to come at the last minute.