A light day back at practice after the Thanksgiving break resulted in a heavy blow Monday for the LSU gymnastics team.
Junior McKenna Kelley suffered what is expected to be a season-ending Achilles’ tendon rupture. LSU coach D-D Breaux confirmed the injury, saying Kelley will undergo surgery Tuesday.
“It’s a huge loss,” Breaux said.
Kelley will take a medical redshirt and aim to return for the 2019 season, according to the school.
Kelley tweeted about her injury herself Monday night:
It is with utmost disappointment that I say I have ruptured my Achilles. I will be undergoing surgery tomorrow & out for the season.— McKenna Kelley (@mckennamckelley) November 28, 2017
Tiger fans, I can promise you I will work my tail off be the best person, student and athlete for this school.
Geaux Tigers & Forever LSU.
“It is with utmost disappointment that I say I have ruptured my Achilles,” Kelley posted. “I will be undergoing surgery tomorrow (Tuesday) & out for the season. Tiger fans, I can promise you I will work my tail off to be the best person, student and athlete for this school. Geaux Tigers & Forever LSU.”
Breaux said her gymnasts were going through a light workout Monday after a five-day Thanksgiving break when Kelley went down.
“She’s tumbling, doing one of her passes,” Breaux said. “It’s something difficult, but it’s easy for her. She hit the mat and said she blew her Achilles.”
A two-time All-American as a sophomore in 2017, Kelley shared the Southeastern Conference floor exercise championship with former LSU All-American Ashleigh Gnat and two Florida gymnasts. Kelley was being counted on to help fill the void left by Gnat, adding vault and balance beam to her repertoire in 2018.
“Our team has been on a roll for five years,” Breaux said. “Now we’re going to see what we’re made of.
“The kids were looking at each other as if to say, ‘Is anybody good enough to replace McKenna?’ Can you replace Derrius Guice?”
Guice, LSU’s star tailback, tweeted words of encouragement at Kelley soon after her announcement.
Take care of yourself first always! Don't rush the process. Make sure you are 100% before you do anything! Much love ❤💪🏾 https://t.co/n1HVhXgUeu— 5⃣ (@DhaSickest) November 28, 2017
“Take care of yourself first always!” Guice wrote. “Don’t rush the process. Make sure you are 100% before you do anything. Much love”
Kelley’s injury comes on the same day that LSU announced it surpassed the 5,000-season ticket mark for gymnastics for the first time. The Tigers swept the SEC regular-season and championship meet titles in 2017 before finishing as NCAA runner-up to Oklahoma for the second straight year.
Kelley is the daughter of legendary Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, the all-around gold medalist in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Breaux said Retton was traveling from the family home in Houston to be with her daughter for her surgery Tuesday.
The Kelleys' youngest daughter, Emma, is an LSU gymnastics commitment for 2020. If McKenna chooses to return for a fifth season in 2020, they could compete for LSU together.
LSU will host its annual "Gymnastics 101" preseason exhibition at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. There is no admission charge.