After failing to score a 197 in a season-opening win at home last Friday over California, things were even rougher on the road Friday for No. 4 LSU at Auburn.
LSU lost its first Southeastern Conference regular-season dual meet in nearly three years and lost senior McKenna Kelley in the process, creating some concerns in her comeback from an Achilles tendon injury that cost her all of the 2018 season.
No. 17-ranked Auburn outscored No. 4 LSU 196.700-196.275 at Auburn Arena. It was LSU’s worst score since a 195.825 in the second week of the 2016 season in a dual meet in Las Vegas, a season that ended with an NCAA runner-up finish.
The loss snapped a string of 17 straight SEC regular-season victories dating to a loss at Georgia on Feb. 13, 2016. LSU’s winning streak started the following week at home against Auburn, but this time Auburn posted its first home victory over LSU (1-1, 0-1 SEC) since 2013.
“We never got any traction, any momentum,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “The first couple of events felt good, then McKenna tweaked her ankle warming up on floor and that got in the kids' heads.”
Kelley ruptured her Achilles in practice in November 2017. She was not in significant pain Friday, but watched the rest of the meet with an iced wrap on her ankle.
“She took a hard landing and she’s not used to that,” Breaux said. “It wasn’t her Achilles’ tendon but her ankle.
“We didn’t want to ask her to push through anything. She’s walking on it. She’ll have treatment this weekend, and we’ll see what happens Monday.”
Kelley was replaced in the LSU floor lineup by freshman Bailey Ferrer, who struggled to a 9.550. LSU did not have to count the score but did count a 9.625 from junior Kennedi Edney and went into the final rotation on beam tied with Auburn at 147.525.
Christina Desiderio led off with a fall and a 9.275. Again, LSU did not have to count the score but did have to count a 9.675 from Bridget Dean and did not score better than a pair of 9.825s from Reagan Campbell and Sarah Finnegan. Meanwhile Auburn, led by a meet-best 9.95 from Derrian Gobourne, scored a 49.175 on floor to easily outsprint LSU’s 48.750.
“It was a shocker,” Breaux said. “They’ll rebound. It’s a resilient group. There is a lot of pride there.”
Finnegan was the bright spot of the meet for LSU. The senior and 2018 SEC gymnast of the year shared the all-around title with Gobourne with a score of 39.475. Finnegan also shared first place on uneven bars with Edney and LSU teammate Lexi Priessman, who is also recovering from shoulder surgery and turned in a solid 9.80 on vault.
Finnegan now has 51 individual titles, moving within one of former All-American Myia Hambrick for ninth place on LSU’s career list.
LSU returns home next Friday to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for a showdown with perennial gymnastics power Florida. The meet is set to begin at 8 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network.
“If we’ve got to do it let’s do it early and be greater later,” Breaux said of her team’s sub-par performance. “We’ll go home and regroup. It’s not the end but the beginning of the season.”
1. #17 Auburn 196.700 (Vault — 49.125, Bars — 49.500, Beam — 48.900, Floor — 49.175)
2. #4 LSU 196.275 (Vault — 49.150, Bars — 49.350, Beam — 48.750, Floor — 49.025)
Individual (includes first place and all LSU competitors)
All-Around — T1. Kennedi Edney, LSU, Derrian Gobourne, Auburn, 39.475; 3. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 39.175; 4. Drew Watson, Auburn, 39.150.
Vault — 1. Derrian Gobourne, Auburn, 9.90; 2. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.875; T3. Ruby Harrold, LSU, 9.85; 5. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.825; T6. Lexie Priessman, Sarah Edwards, LSU, 9.80; 12. Julianna Cannamela, LSU, 9.75.
Bars — T1. Kennedi Edney, Lexie Priessman, Sarah Finnegan, LSU, Abby Milliet, Auburn, 9.925; T9. Sami Durante, LSU, 9.825; T11. Bridget Dean, Ruby Harrold, LSU, 9.75.
Beam — 1. Abby Milliet, Auburn, 9.90; T2. Reagan Campbell, Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.825; 7. Sami Durante, LSU, 9.725; 8. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.70; 9. Bridget Dean, LSU, 9.675; 11. Christina Desiderio, LSU, 9.275.
Floor — 1. Derrian Gobourne, Auburn, 9.95; T2. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.90; 4. Reagan Campbell, LSU, 9.85; T5. Ruby Harrold, LSU, 9.825; T7. Sarah Edwards, LSU, 9.775; 10. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.675; 12. Bailey Ferrer, LSU, 9.55.