The week off between the end of the regular season and Saturday’s SEC Gymnastics Championship meet apparently suited the LSU Tigers well.
Coach Jay Clark said Thursday that his team is the healthiest it has been in years going into the SEC meet. The No. 2-seeded Tigers compete at 7 p.m. at the Von Braun Center Propst Arena in Huntsville, Alabama. The meet will be shown on SEC Network.
“Everyone is doing as well as they can be to this point,” senior Sarah Edwards said. “Eight (regular-season) meets can bang up your body, but we’re hanging in there.”
An example of that, Clark said, is senior Reagan Campbell. She was held out of LSU’s last meet against Missouri in part because of injuries.
“Reagan has looked a whole lot better the last two weeks,” Clark said. “She will be on balance beam at least.”
A collegiate gymnast’s career is usually brutal in its finality.
Now ranked No. 4
Michigan posted a 198.100 against Maryland last Friday to move the Wolverines past LSU in the NQS (National Qualifying Score), 197.788-197.700. The Tigers are No. 4, ahead of California (197.575) and Utah (197.469). Florida and Oklahoma are still tied for No. 1 with a 197.944
Team-wise, LSU is ranked third on floor and vault and fifth on bars and beam.
Individually, freshman Haleigh Bryant is still No. 8 nationally in the all around with a 39.594 NQS. She’s also tied for third on floor (9.956) and tied for sixth on vault (9.944).
Sophomore Kiya Johnson has a season average of 9.983 on floor with two 10s and a 9.95 but doesn’t have enough scores to qualify for the national lead. That is held by Florida’s Trinity Thomas (9.975).
How many all-arounders?
Clark said Johnson and Bryant will be on all four events as all-arounders, but it will probably be a meet time decision on beam as to whether sophomore Alyona Shchennikova joins them.
“Alyona is pushing to be in the beam lineup,” Clark said. “It’s no step down if we go with her, but we may go with the hot hand. We’ve got a stellar beam lineup with or without her.”
Mike on the mic
Mike Smith, LSU gymnastics’ public-address announcer for home meets in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, will once again be on the call for the SEC championship.
This is Smith’s third time to call the SEC meet. He also was on the microphone in St. Louis in 2018 and New Orleans in 2019 and was to be in Duluth, Georgia, before last year’s championship was canceled.
Georgia is out
Georgia announced Thursday that its team will not participate in the championship meet because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the program.
The GymDogs, the No. 7 seed, were to participate in the afternoon session Saturday with No. 5 Kentucky, No. 6 Auburn and No. 8 Missouri. Those three teams will compete starting at 2:30 p.m.
Georgia is hosting one of four NCAA regionals, April 1-3 in Athens. The GymDogs are expected to be in the field.