LEXINGTON, Ky. — A rough week of practice for the LSU gymnastics team resulted in a rough night of competition Friday at Kentucky.
The No. 17-ranked Wildcats routed the No. 5 Tigers 197.150-196.025 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington. It was the second-best score in program history for Kentucky (4-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) and the worst score of ths season for LSU. At 3-3 overall and 1-3 in conference, the Tigers now find themselves virtually eliminated from contention for the SEC regular-season title they won the past two seasons with three SEC meets to go.
Overall, it was Kentucky’s first win over LSU in gymnastics since 2011 and just the sixth in 85 meets all-time against the Tigers, who now have as many SEC dual meet losses as they had the previous five seasons combined.
LSU got off to a rocky start with a very uneven performance on uneven bars, usually the Tigers’ strongest event. LSU had to count a 9.25 from senior Lexie Priessman when she missed the grip on the lower bar on one pass after freshman Bailey Ferrer fell in the second spot for a 9.15. The Tigers scored no better than 9.875 from senior Sarah Finnegan and trailined UK after the first rotation 49.200-48.575 after the Wildcats opened on vault.
“We started backpedaling on bars, dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get any momentum,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “They ate us alive with momentum. That’s pretty much the story.”
LSU rebounded a bit in the second rotation with a 49.175 on vault, led by a pair of 9.85s by Priessman and junior Ruby Harrold. But the Tigers fell even father behind as Kentucky posted a season-best 49.300 on bars, led by a 9.90 from Alex Hyland.
After two rotations, LSU faced a huge gap trailing UK 98.500-97.750, the meet basically decided as Kentucky went on to outscore the Tigers in all four routines.
Things didn’t get much better for LSU on floor. Three LSU gymnasts — Harrold, junior Kennedi Edney and senior floor anchor McKenna Kelley — all went out of bounds during their routines as the Tigers settled for a 48.900. LSU had to count a 9.725 from Kelley and a 9.70 from Edney that could not be offset by a strong 9.925 from Finnegan for the win.
Breaux said Kelley was unable to practice this week because of illness and was a scratch on vault Friday. Reagan Campbell competed on beam and floor despite being unable to practice last week with an ankle injury. And the Tigers were still without sophomore Sami Durante, who suffered a concussion in warmups last Friday before LSU’s home meet against North Carolina State.
LSU had put Ferrer in her place on bars, and the result was a routine that helped send the Tigers into a downward spiral.
“She’s giving all she’s got but she’s just not ready,” Breaux said. “But we had to put her in.”
Injury and illness aside, Breaux said having three gymnasts go out of bounds on floor was unacceptable.
“That’s not being prepared to hit the floor,” she said.
LSU did save its best event for last on beam, scoring a 49.375 counting nothing less than a pair of 9.85s from Kelley and sophomore Christina Desiderio. Finnegan shared the title with Kentucky’s Sidney Dukes, each posting 9.925s.
Finnegan finished second in the all-around, her first time not taking that title in six meets this season. Still, titles on floor and beam gave Finnegan 63 individual crowns for her career, moving her into solo seventh place in LSU history one ahead of former teammate Ashleigh Gnat and Jennifer Wood.
The Tigers are back on the road next Friday in the GymQuarters Invitational in St. Charles, Missouri. LSU’s next home meet is Sunday, Feb. 17 against Missouri.
“We have to keep polishing the rock and hope to turn the corner and be the team we can be,” Breaux said.
1. #17 Kentucky 197.150 (Vault — 49.200, Bars — 49.300, Beam — 49.425, Floor — 49.225)
2. #5 LSU 196.025 (Vault — 49.175, Bars — 48.575, Beam — 49.375, Floor — 48.900)
Individual (includes first place and all LSU competitors)
All-Around — 1. Mollie Korth, Kentucky, 39.600; 2. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 39.550; 3. Alex Hyland, Kentucky, 39.525; 4. Sidney Dukes, Kentucky, 39.400; 5. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 39.150.
Vault — 1. Mollie Korth, Kentucky, 9.925; T3. Ruby Harrold, Lexie Priessman, LSU, 9.85; T5. Sarah Finnegan, Julianna Cannamela, Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.825; T10. Sarah Edwards, LSU, 9.775.
Bars — 1. Alex Hyland, Kentucky, 9.90; T2. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.875; T5. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.85; T7. Bridget Dean, Ruby Harrold, LSU, 9.80; 11. Lexie Priessman, LSU, 9.25; 12. Bailey Ferrer, LSU, 9.15.
Beam — T1. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, Sidney Dukes, Kentucky, 9.925; T4. Bridget Dean, Reagan Campbell, LSU, 9.875; T8. Christina Desiderio, McKenna Kelley, LSU, 9.85; 11. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.775.
Floor — 1. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.925; T5. Reagan Campbell, LSU, 9.825; 7. Christina Desiderio, LSU, 9.80; 9. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.70; 10. Ruby Harrold, LSU, 9.65; 11. McKenna Kelley, LSU, 9.625.