One day, I will understand how the rankings for NCAA gymnastics work. LSU has gone on the road the past two weekends, lost, yet now finds itself ranked #1 in the country. It has something to do with road scores, but it does seem mystifying that LSU could lose to Florida and then jump the Gators in the rankings.
Actually, it does make sense when you do some digging. Rankings are based up upon your Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). The RQS is calculated by taking your top six scores, three of which must be away from your home gym, dropping the top score, and then averaging the remaining five. It doesn't allow a team to boost their score with one massive outlier.
LSU has an RQS of 197.470, a school record. LSU is also ranked No. 1 in both the floor and the vault.
Individually, the Tigers are kicking some ass as well. Rheagan Courville, who I'm quickly running out of superlatives to describe, is ranked #1 in the all around in the nation. Not to be left out is Jessie Jordan, whose 9.915 RQS puts her #1 in the nation in the beam. Oh, and Sarie Morrison's 9.935 ranks #1 on the bars.
So LSU has a gymnast ranked #1 overall and two separate gymnasts ranked No. 1 in an individual event. And somehow Lloimincia Hall is not ranked #1 on the floor. She's #2 in the nation with a 9.945. Considering it seems she scores a perfect 10 every other weekend on the floor, it's conceivable LSU could have four separate gymnasts atop the national rankings in an event.
This is huge for the LSU gym team, and it makes the bitter pill of this weekend's match with Florida go down a lot easier. Honestly, sometimes the other team just plays to the best of their ability and all you can do is tip your cap. It was that kind of weekend in Gainesville.
LSU held the lead after two rotations, 98.975-98.925, barely edging the Gators on both the vault and the bars. LSU won each of those rotations by the narrowest of margins, 0.025, and held a miniscule 0.050 lead. That's essentially tied, and both teams were hitting everything, bringing out the very best in each other.
LSU lost the lead, and likely the meet, on the next rotation. LSU scored a 49.425 on the floor, which is a very good score, but not what this team is capable of. Hall was the only gymnast to score a 9.900 or above with a 9.925 in the anchor slot. If LSU is going to beat the very top teams, we need to put up a monster score on the floor.
Florida, on the other hand, scored a 49.550 on the beam to take a 0.075 lead. Now, that's a insignificant lead, but the biggest thing was that Florida got to close on the floor while LSU had to move to that old sadistic torture device, the beam. Teams tend to get bigger scores on the floor exercise, so having to come from behind on the beam is just a massive mountain to climb.
It started with a near disaster. Hall scored a 9.575 to open the rotation, meaning that LSU was going to have to throw her score out. The margin of error was gone on the first gymnast, and the pressure just kept mounting. The team responded and put up a good score, 49.225, but not a great one.
Meanwhile, the Gators took advantage of that small slip up and kept applying the pressure. Four gymnasts scored a 9.900 or higher on the floor exercise, and the Gators posted a massive 49.650 on the rotation. A score like that makes it impossible for anyone to come back and catch you.
Thanks to that massive final rotation, Florida took the meet by a deceiving score of 198.125-197.625. That makes it look like Florida dominated the meet when in fact it was a nail-biter right down to the end. The score was with a tenth of point through every rotation until that remarkable floor exercise.
That's the second time this season LSU has seen a 198 scored against them. This is both a good and a bad thing. It's bad for the obvious reasons, as going up against a 198 almost always results in a loss. But on the positive side, that's what it takes to beat the #1 team in the country. LSU is running into monster scores because they are pushing teams to those heights. That's the only way to beat LSU this year.
The Tigers have been incredibly consistent this season. This bodes well for the postseason, as we know LSU responds well to pressure and regardless of what's going on around them, they put up pretty much the same score every time. This team doesn't need a special performance to win the national title come the Super Six, it just needs to do what it does, and ignore all of the distractions. You can only affect your own performance.
That's what the number one ranked team does.