Rabalais: LSU gymnasts deserve to splurge after best-ever season _lowres

Photo provided by LSU Sports/Chris Parent -- The LSU gymnastic team celebrates their second place victory at the NCAA National Championships in Fort Worth on Saturday, April 16, 2016. ORG XMIT: Gymnastics NCAA Championship Sup

FORT WORTH, Texas — LSU’s Myia Hambrick is only a sophomore, but she already has some impressive plaques on the wall.

She added a few more at the NCAA gymnastics championships, earning four All-America honors with her performance in Friday’s semifinals.

In all, the Tigers had five gymnasts named All-Americans in one or more events following the individual competition, which was determined by Friday’s scores.

Hambrick, who placed third in the all-around with a score of 39.5265, was a first-team choice in that event as well as in the floor exercise, where her 9.925 was second to Denver’s Nina McGee.

Hambrick, who was a first-team All-American in the vault as a freshman and this season was named to the all-Southeastern Conference team, was also named second-team All-American in the vault and the uneven bars.

Her total was matched by junior Ashleigh Gnat, who claimed first-team honors in the vault (tied for third, 9.925) and balance beam, and was second team in the all-around and floor.

Three other Tigers were recognized in single events. Freshman Sarah Finnegan’s fourth-place finish in the bars at 9.90 earned her a spot on the first team in that event and senior Jessica Savona made the first team on the floor. Freshman Lexie Priessman was a second-team selection on the bars.

Slow start, strong finish

LSU didn’t get off the start it hoped for in Saturday’s Super Six finals.

After a bye in the first rotation, the Tigers opened their competition on the uneven bars, an event in which they ranked fifth nationally during the regular season. But Finnegan, an All-American on the bars, fell during her routine and wound up with a 9.3 as LSU finished the rotation with a score of 49.125 — far below its season average of 49.370.

In fact, that score was LSU’s third-lowest on the bars this season and its lowest since Jan. 22, when it posted a 48.80 in a dual meet with Kentucky.

But in its next rotation, the Tigers were powerful on the balance beam — the event that did them in during last year’s semifinals. Led by 9.8875s by Hambrick and Erin Macadaeg, they scored 49.3375, LSU’s best ever in that event in NCAA championship competition.

Finnegan played a big role in that score, rebounding from her fall on the bars with a solid routine that earned a 9.875.

Slow start, strong finish 2

Julianna Cannamela had a tough day Friday, falling off the beam and taking a 9.05. Given a second chance in Saturday’s final, the LSU freshman came back in a big way with a season-high 9.85.

Next year

The dates and sites for the 2017 NCAA women’s gymnastics championships, including the regionals, are set.

The regionals, scheduled for April 1, will be in Gainesville, Florida; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Morgantown, West Virginia,; Champaign, Illinois.; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Seattle. The national semifinals and Super Six finals will be held April 14-15 at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.