lsucalgymnastics.010519 HS 1996.JPG

LSU junior Sarah Finnegan performs her beam routine in a meet against Cal, Friday, January 4, 2019, at LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. Finnegan scored a 9.95 in the event.

When the Southeastern Conference announces its weekly gymnastics awards Tuesday, it will hardly be a surprise if LSU’s Sarah Finnegan takes down the league’s top honor for the opening week of the season.

Finnegan, the 2018 SEC gymnast of the year, made a strong bid to win the first weekly honor of 2019 when she claimed the all-around title and two of the four individual events to lead the Tigers’ win over Cal on Friday night.

No. 4 LSU posted a score of 196.775 with Finnegan putting up a 39.675 in the all-around, while No. 8 Cal scored a 195.650.

It was the third-highest all-around score recorded nationally on the opening week. Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols had the top score with a 39.750, and Utah’s MyKayla Skinner was next at 39.700.

In addition to the all-around, Finnegan won the beam and floor exercise crowns with identical 9.950 scores and came close to hitting for the gymnastics equivalent of the baseball cycle.

Finnegan, a senior, missed out on the vault and bars titles by .025 each with a 9.875 on vault and 9.90 on bars. LSU’s Lexie Priessman won the vault (9.90) and Ruby Harrold took bars (9.925).

The three titles gave Finnegan 49 for her career. That moved her into the top 10 on the school’s career wins list ahead of Angie Topham, who previously held down 10th place with 47.

Still in fourth

After one meet, LSU remained fourth nationally — which is where the Tigers were in the preseason rankings.

Oklahoma posted the top score of the opening week with a 198.050, eighth-tenths higher than reigning national champion UCLA’s 197.250. Utah is third with a 197.175.

LSU ranks second nationally on beam (49.325), third on bars (49.350), fourth on floor exercise (49.275) and is tied for 14th on vault (48.825).

The Tigers lead the SEC in beam, bars and floor ex and are tied for sixth in vault.

In with the new

In addition to ringing in a new year last week, LSU welcomed a couple of new performers to its beam and bars lineup.

Sophomores Sami Durante, who was limited to bars as a freshman, and fellow sophomore Bridget Dean, who did not compete a year ago, fared well in their season debuts.

Durante, who made the SEC All-Freshman team with a high score of 9.90 on bars last season, led off the bars lineup with a 9.850, while Dean followed with a 9.750 in her collegiate debut.

Going second on the beam, Durante duplicated that score of 9.850 in the first routine of her college career on beam in the second spot and Dean had a 9.775.

Kirby sidelined

Junior Ashlyn Kirby, who led off LSU's floor exercise lineup last season, did not participate in the season-opening meet after suffering a knee injury last week in practice.

Kirby, who owns a career-best score of 9.925 on floor, is expected to be out indefinitely.

What’s next?

LSU travels to unranked Auburn to open SEC action on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The meet will be televised by SEC Network.

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.