LSU Gym Dons the Rally Caps

New match, new star. Say hi to Kaleigh Dickson. - USA TODAY Sports

A huge comeback is keyed by Dickson's huge score

It wasn't the football team coming from three touchdowns down to beat Houston, but it was close. Auburn is the 14th ranked team in the nation and going into the final rotation, they had built a 0.150 point lead. That's not insurmountable, but it's pretty darn big. LSU wasn't dead, but someone probably was calling the priest to perform Last Rites just in case.

The priest wasn't needed.

LSU responded to this deep deficit by completely dominating the floor exercise and turning that 0.150 deficit into a 0.325 point margin of victory. That's not a comeback, that's vengeance.

Even more amazing, it's not like Auburn fell apart on the beam. Now, it's tough to put up big scores on the beam, so there's no way Auburn felt comfortable trying to protect a lead on the toughest of rotations, but they did their job. Auburn scored a 49.050, averaging over a 9.8 per gymnast. Not blow you out of the water great, but hardly a disaster. That's the kind of score that seems like it could make a 0.150 point lead stand up.

LSU needed to score a 49.200 on the floor to tie, which works out to an average score of 9.840. LSU needed to score 9.85 on virtually every exercise, which is a pretty tall task. The team didn't just meet the task, they crushed it.

The lowest qualifying score was a 9.875. Only Ashley Gnat failed to score at least a 9.8, and that's because her step out of bounds triggered an automatic tenth of a point deduction from her 9.850 score. Three Tigers scored at least a 9.900 on the floor, and Courville led the way with a 9.950.

I'm going to run out of ways to say that Rheagan Courville is awesome by midseason, but she won the all-around again. Her 9.950 on the floor closed the door on the match, as her score made it literally impossible for Auburn to catch LSU even if they scored a perfect 10. It's what great athletes do, they make plays when it counts the most.

Instead of resting on her laurels with the match already in hand, Lloimonica Hall went out there and scored a 9.925 as the anchor. There was no letup, which I always appreciate against Auburn in any sport. It capped a massive comeback and made the match look like a blowout, which it most certainly was not. This was a nerve-wracking match that, for most of the match, looked like LSU was staring an 0-2 SEC start right in the face.

This is the kind of match in which you find out what you're made of. That was a big mountain to climb, and only one rotation to do it. No one thought LSU could start the year 0-2 in conference, but it looked like that nightmare was about the come true. The LSU team responded in a big way. This was gut check time.

Every comeback begins with that first step, so a huge amount of the credit goes to Kaleigh Dickson. She opened the floor exercise with a 9.900. Caryn Kadous opened up the Auburn beam rotation with a 9.725, so after just one gymnast in the final rotation, LSU had effectively wiped out all of Auburn's lead.

Just like that, LSU had the lead and all of the momentum. Her teammates followed up on that performance and turned a rising tide into a tidal wave. Huge score after huge score followed, but it was all started by Dickson stepping out on that mat and answering the bell.

Courville is the team's star, and we're going to need her to win the all around or come close to it every single match. That's the pressure of being the anchor. But this match showed that you need more than just one star, you need a whole team. Dickson set a personal best in the all-around with a 39.425, and she started an amazing comeback on the final rotation. She didn't win the all-around title, but she did something better, she was the key to winning the match.

LSU next hosts #7 Alabama at the PMAC on Friday night, 7pm. The meet will be televised live on Cox Sports and CSS.


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