Most seasons, LSU co-head gymnastics coach D-D Breaux isn’t a fan of when the National Qualifying Score (NQS) averages kick in.
“I believe everything should count,” Breaux said Tuesday.
There are exceptions to every rule, and this season of early struggles and recent improvement for LSU is a case in point.
The Tigers moved up to No. 5 nationally with an NQS average of 197.165. That’s just 0.035 behind No. 4 Utah, an important distinction. Teams will be seeded in the SEC Championship meet and NCAA competition based on their NQS averages, with the top four teams earning the No. 1 seed in the four NCAA regionals.
A team’s NQS average is derived from taking its best six meet scores, at least three of which must be away from home, throwing out the top score and averaging the remaining five.
Currently, LSU is second in the SEC behind No. 2 Florida (197.690) and ahead of No. 9 Alabama (196.965) and No. 10 Georgia (196.900). If the season ended today, those would be the four teams in the evening session of the SEC Championship meet March 21 in Duluth, Georgia, where the conference title is usually decided.
“Right now, in the situation we’re in, where we had a couple meets when we could not put our best lineup out there, this is playing to our advantage,” Breaux said of the NQS. “Sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t.”
Johnson No. 1 on floor
There’s a new No. 1 on floor exercise thanks to the NQS averages, and her name is Kiya Johnson.
The LSU freshman is tied for first with Florida’s Trinity Thomas with a 9.960 average. Johnson also ranks No. 2 in the all-around (39.630) and No. 3 on vault (9.925).
It speaks to the kind of season Johnson is having when it’s news that she didn’t earn an SEC weekly honor.
After four straight weeks as SEC freshman of the week, Johnson saw the award go to Missouri’s Helen Hu. She edged out Johnson 39.475-39.450 for the all-around title last Friday in LSU’s 197.025-196.850 win at Mizzou.
“I don’t really think about that,” Johnson said. “That’s not what I’m trying to accomplish week in and week out. I’d say I was a little frustrated with the meet overall.”
Johnson, by her standards, didn’t have her best meet, though she picked up her 21st individual title with a 9.925 on floor. She had a 9.825 on vault, a 9.80 on uneven bars and a 9.90 on beam.
Kennedi Edney “showed a lot of promise” Monday on uneven bars, Breaux said, though the coach wasn’t ready to say the senior all-arounder was ready to return to the rotation in that event. Edney hasn’t competed on bars since Jan. 24 after suffering an elbow injury in practice.
“Kennedi is really coming along,” Breaux said. “That’s been very encouraging. We may or may not see her back in there in the all-around (this week).”
Junior Sarah Edwards, who injured her ankle Jan. 24 at Florida, “is still a huge question mark,” Breaux said. “We’ll see how that progresses.”
In person, or streaming
LSU’s meet Friday against No. 14 Arkansas is set for 7:15 p.m. in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. It will not be televised on the SEC Network but can be seen streaming online at WatchESPN.com or on the ESPN app.
Team SEC Pct. Overall Pct. NQS Average
Florida# 6-0 1.000 8-0 1.000 197.690
LSU 4-2 .667 10-2 .833 197.165
Alabama 3-2 .600 4-4-1 .500 196.965
Georgia 2-2 .500 8-5 .615 196.900
Kentucky 3-3 .500 6-4 .600 196.665
Arkansas 2-4 .333 2-6 .250 196.430
Auburn 3-4 .429 4-6 .400 196.400
Missouri 0-6 .000 2-9 .182 196.230
*-According to NQS rankings
#-Clinched SEC regular-season title
Arkansas at LSU, 7:30 p.m. (SECNetwork+)
Florida at Georgia, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)
Texas Woman’s at Auburn, 7 p.m.
Minnesota, Ohio State, Lindenwood at Missouri, 7 p.m.
Kentucky at Alabama, 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
All times Central