ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Once again, LSU freshman Kiya Johnson was perfection. But it was far from a one-woman show in the GymQuaters Invitational, as the rest of the Tigers gymnastics team was more than up to the task.
In the midst of its busiest stretch of the regular season, No. 9-ranked LSU posted its best score Friday, a 197.875 to easily win over No. 18 Iowa State (196.625), No. 19 Missouri (196.450) and reigning NCAA Division II champion Lindenwood (193.550).
It was LSU’s much sought-after “24-for-24” performance, a night in which the Tigers (8-2 overall) hit all 24 of their routines. No LSU gymnast had any score loser than a 9.75, and the lowest score the Tigers had to count was one 9.80.
LSU’s effort topped its previous best score in a 198.375-198.775 loss Jan. 24 at Florida.
“This was the best performance of the year, and it started from the first routine,” LSU co-head coach D-D Breaux said. “We got some momentum going, and the kids kept it going the whole time.”
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The Tigers were led by Johnson in the all-around with a career high 39.750 that included a 10.0 on vault, a 9.95 on floor exercise and a 9.925 on balance beam. Only a 9.875 on uneven bars kept the freshman phenom from having 9.9-plus scores across the board. Johnson’s perfect score on vault was her second 10.0, matching one she had on beam at Florida.
“It’s pretty stellar,” Breaux said. “She was amazing. I felt she was underscored on bars. She just about had a perfect night."
LSU had nine scores of 9.90 or higher, including a season-high tying 9.95 from senior Kennedi Edney in her return to vault. The two-time NCAA vault champion sat out the event the past two meets with an elbow injury. Edney also had a season-high 9.925 on floor.
“We’ve have been a bit of a flat tire on vaulting,” Breaux said. “But Bob (Moore, assistant coach) was able to get Kennedi back in the lineup, and it made all the difference in the world.”
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Freshman Alyona Shchennikova and junior Sami Durante shared event titles on bars with a pair of 9.95s. Junior Reagan Campbell anchored beam with a 9.925, as LSU posted team season highs on bars (49.475) and floor (49.500).
The only negative for LSU was a warmup ankle injury to junior Olivia Gunter on floor. She left the arena on crutches with a walking boot on her left foot. The extent of her injury was unknown, and it foiled LSU's plans to have Johnson sit out floor in this meet.
LSU returns home quickly to host No. 12 Kentucky in a Southeastern Conference meet at 2:15 p.m. Sunday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The meet will only be shown online on SECNetwork+ via WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app.