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Gymnastics Breaks the Scoreboard

So does Rheagan

You need to appreciate athletic greatness, particular in college, before it is gone. Athletes have such a short window of time for their entire collegiate career. Soon after they have said hello, it's almost time to say good-bye. Careers are so short, and that's part of what makes them special.

Rheagan Courville, with apologies to Leonard Fournette, is the greatest athlete on LSU's campus right now. She is a back-to-back national champion on vault, and she is a legitimate contender to win the all-around title this year. She is the best athlete on the best team on campus and if LSU wins the national title this year, she will secure her legacy as one of the all-time LSU greats (she doesn't NEED to win the title, but it would help).

This weekend's meet was her signature performance. Courville scored a 9.95 on the first three rotations, and closed out her night with a 9.975 on the floor exercise. Her 39.825 was a career high, and while Llomincia Hall might have gone viral for her Les Miles assist, this was Courville's night. She didn't just win the all-around, she posted the highest score at every single rotation. Fournette should call Courville for tips on how to be more dominant.

Buoyed by Rheagan's amazing night, LSU kept putting up amazing scores at every rotation. By the end of two rotations, it seemed like the meet was essentially over. We were wrong. It was just getting started.

On the third rotation, LSU scored a 49.625 on the beam. Now, 49.625 is a huge score on any rotation, but it's off the charts on the beam, which usually has much lower scoring. Something was brewing in the P-MAC.

On the season, five teams have scored a 49.500 or better on the uneven bars, seven on the vault, and five on the floor. Not only had no one cracked 49.500 on the beam before tonight, the highest score on the season for any team was a 49.425. Only two teams had scored at least a 49.400 (Oklahoma was the other). LSU's previous season high was a 49.325, tied for the fifth best in the nation.

LSU rocketed past the 49.500 mark and put up a score on the beam a full two-tenths of a point higher than any team has managed all year. It bested LSU's previous best by three-tenths of a point as four gymnasts scored at least a 9.900 (Courville and Erin Macadaeg at 9.95, Myia Hambrick and Ashleigh Gnat at 9.90). At that point, history was in this team's grasp.

That's when I decided to jinx it:

A 198 is a nearly impossible score. It requires that a team average 49.500 on each rotation, and a 49.500 requires that each individual average a 9.90 within the rotation. A 9.90 score is an excellent score to achieve even once. What a 198 requires is for the team to AVERAGE excellence. There is almost no room for error.

Going in the final three slots of that final rotations, LSU needed even more than 9.9's to reach that elusive 198. This was the moment the team needed its stars to be its stars. And boy, did they deliver. Gnat, Rheagan, and Mincy closed out the night with three straight awesome scores. 9.95, 9.975, and 9.95. By the time Les made the clap heard around the nation, LSU was on its way to the best score any team has posted all season long. This was the single best night for any LSU team all season.

That's one of the wonderful things about a great individual performance. It can key a spectacular team accomplishment. This should have been Courville's night. Instead, it was something even better.