After traveling to and from the St. Louis area for a winning effort Friday night in the GymQuarters Mardi Gras Invitaitonal, the LSU Tigers are back home to complete the season’s most demanding weekend with a home meet Sunday against Missouri.
It would appear to be a difficult assignment, considering the physical demands of gymnastics, and it is. But the second half of the weekend often yields surprisingly positive results, LSU associate head coach Jay Clark said.
“My experience has been people think it’s a big deal and the second one will be tough,” Clark said, “but the second one usually ends up being the better of the two.
“If we weren’t competing, we’d be practicing.”
Pre-meet introductions are at 2:10 p.m. Sunday, and the meet itself begins at 2:30 p.m. with LSU’s first vault at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Southeastern Conference dual meet will not be televised but will stream live on SECNetwork+ via WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
Coming off a season-worst score of 196.025 two weeks ago in a loss at Kentucky, No. 5 LSU bounced back strongly Friday to beat No. 4 Utah, the same No. 15 Missouri team it now hosts and No. 26 Stanford. LSU’s score of 197.250 bested the 197.075 from Utah, Mizzou’s 196.475 and Stanford’s 195.850.
Competing in her native Missouri for the final time, senior Sarah Finnegan put on a brilliant show by winning four of the five individual titles: all-around, floor, bars and vault. Finnegan now has 67 career individual titles, moving past former Tiger Jeanie Beadle (66) for sixth place.
LSU is now 6-3 overall with wins over the other three teams Friday. The result does not count toward the Southeastern Conference standings as will Sunday’s dual meet as LSU (1-3 SEC) tries to climb back toward .500 with three meets remaining.
Missouri is 5-8 and 1-4.
LSU’s coaches annually work a two-meet weekend into the schedule to help simulate what the team will go through during the postseason. LSU will compete on back-to-back days when it hosts an NCAA regional (April 5-6) and would also compete two days in a row if it advances to the NCAA semifinals and final in Fort Worth, Texas (April 19-20).
“It just challenges them from a mental standpoint,” Clark said. “It also helps us because with our fan base growing like it is we always try to have six home meets instead of five. In order to do that we have to double up one weekend.”