FORT WORTH, Texas — When LSU’s Sarah Finnegan strikes a pose during competition in Friday’s NCAA Championships, it will be Heisman-looking pose.
The Tigers senior won the AAI Award on Wednesday night, given annually to the nation’s top female senior gymnast. The award, which was announced at the NCAA Championships banquet, is considered the Heisman Trophy of women’s gymnastics.
Finnegan is the third LSU gymnast to win the award, following Ashleigh Gnat in 2017 and Susan Jackson in 2010.
“It’s such a prestigious award,” Finnegan said after LSU’s practice session Thursday. “It could have gone to any of those girls up there. To be the third gymnast from LSU to get that award is such an honor.”
Finnegan beat out five other finalists: Alicia Boren, Florida; Brenna Dowell, Oklahoma; Olivia Karas, Michigan; Katelyn Ohashi, UCLA; and Toni-Ann Williams, California.
“To sit and anticipate that Sarah Finnegan should be the winner and she won it was very, very gratifying,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “She’s so deserving. Her gymnastics is so beautiful. She’s also a great student and incredible ambassador for the university.”
A native of St. Louis, Finnegan was named 2018 and 2019 Southeastern Conference gymnast of the year and also captured the SEC all-around titles both years. She set a school record this season with 13 all-around wins and this year tied the school record with 45 individual titles in a single season.
Finnegan owns the school record for beam titles in a season with 11 and career record for beam titles with 27.
Finnegan and the No. 3-ranked Tigers compete in Semifinal I at noon Friday at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena. The meet will be on ESPN2. The top two teams from both semifinals will advance to Saturday’s championship meet at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
Moore’s wife recovering
Longtime LSU assistant coach Bob Moore did not travel with the team, staying home because his wife Sandra underwent emergency surgery early Wednesday morning for a brain aneurysm after being airlifted to Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson.
Breaux spoke to Moore after practice and said Sandra Moore was up and around Thursday afternoon. She did not know if Moore, an LSU assistant for 19 years, would eventually join the team.
“He might if Sandra kicks him out,” Breaux said.
Lexie Priessman watch
Breaux said senior Lexie Priessman looked good in practice Thursday and that she expects her to compete Friday.
“I thought Lexie had a lot of pop,” Breaux said. “Our strength coach did a lot to keep her warmed up as she went from event to event. I expect she will do two or three events (Friday).”
Priessman sat out the NCAA regional at LSU two weeks ago when she aggravated a previous biceps injury.
“I feel good,” Priessman said. “I’m ready to go.”
Breaux on Alleva, Woodward
Breaux expressed her appreciation for outgoing athletic director Joe Alleva and offered her congratulations to incoming AD Scott Woodward.
“It’s no secret I love Joe Alleva,” Breaux said. “He’s been very good for gymnastics and has elevated gymnastics to where we are now.
“I sent Scott Woodward a congratulatory text last night and said, ‘It’s taken you a long roundabout way to get back but welcome back.’ ”
Woodward left LSU in 2004 for stints at Washington and Texas A&M before being announced Thursday by LSU.
“I think he’ll do a great job,” Breaux said.