LSU is the up and comer in gymnastics, but old habits die hard. Apparently, one of those habits that won't die is losing to Georgia.
There's no real shame in losing to UGA, as they are one of the traditional powers of gym not only in the SEC, but in the nation. But with the rise of Florida and Alabama, LSU needs to stay ahead of the Gym Dogs in the SEC pecking order if we're to be a legitimate national title contender. The team also needs to consistently score over 197.000.
Neither mission accomplished.
It is early in the season, and the team can easily shake off this loss, but it does show where we are as a program. The more this team improves, it still, whether consciously or not, performs like the underdog not the favorite. Underdog days are over. LSU needs to be winning these meets.
OK, 196.875 is nothing to sneeze at. That's still an elite level score, particularly early in the season. This was also a tough road test, and it's doubtful LSU will face a more hostile crowd all season long. Nearly 9,500 Georgia fans showed up to the meet. It wasn't all bad news on the scoreboard either, as Rheagan Courville tied her teammate Jessie Jordan for the meet's all-around title.
But even that bit of good news, that Rheagan Courville is still awesome, had a bit of a bitter aftertaste. The usually reliable Courville scored a 9.725 on the floor, thanks to a 0.10 "neutral decision" deduction on her score. Seeing a score below 9.8 by Courville's name is a rare occurrence. It speaks to her talent that she still took the all-around even though that one score weighed her down.
Had Courville not received that deduction, the teams would have entered the final rotation tied at 147.900. Instead, LSU was down 0.100 points, needing a big score on the beam. I'm still learning the subtleties of the sport, but I know enough to know you don't want to be in a position of playing catch up when you're on the beam. That thing is an evil device invented by sadists.
Michelle Gauthier led off with a 9.700, followed by Jessica Savona's 9.750. That didn't put the final nail in the coffin, but the undertaker was getting ready to swing the hammer. Morgan Reynolds scored a 9.900 in the third spot on the floor exercise for the Georgia, and then it was all over except for the crying.
LSU would rally on the beam, averaging over a 9.8 on the next four routines, but Georgia had already put the thing out of reach. Brandie Jay put an exclamation point on the night with a closing 9.900. Georgia outscored LSU by two tenths on the final rotation, protecting their slim lead.
Really, the difference in the night wasn't that final rotation, as LSU ended up outscoring UGA on the beam. Looking at the scoresheet, the big difference on the night was that the Gym Dogs flat out killed it on the bars. LSU scored a 49.200, their second highest score in any rotation, but Georgia scored a 49.475. Three Georgia gymnasts had scores of 9.900 or above, including Chelsea Davis' 9.975.
Sometimes, the other team just goes out there and puts up a monster score. LSU ran into a monster on Friday night. It's a monster we know all too well, and one this team has got to figure out how to slay on their way to the Super Six.