Well, it wasn't pretty, but LSU traveled to Las Vegas to convincingly defeat NC State, even with a shaky performance, 195.825-193.625. But this is the kind of meet we should expect this year, following up a huge win with a less impressive win. Still, it counts as a win, so let's not nitpick.
There was little chance of the Wolfpack actually winning this meet absent near divine intervention, and LSU never really sweated the result. LSU jumped out to a massive lead on the first rotation, and then managed to extend it even further on the second. Halfway through the meet, the Tigers held a massive 98.775-97.250 lead. The competition was essentially over at this point, and the Tigers proceeded to compete like it.
Again, it's hard to quibble with a team that loses its focus after building a near insurmountable lead. It's also not like NCSU came anywhere near coming back. Still, LSU struggled on the beam and then failed to recover as it often does on the floor. The beam, I get. Satan's Apparatus is designed to crush your soul, and LSU suffered through two falls which dragged the overall rotation score down. That happens, and it's better to work through this in January than later in the season. But the floor? Come on, that's our bread and butter.
The team had a bizarre experience on that final rotation, posting the four highest individual scores and then the two lowest (throwing out one). LSU had the high of three 9.90 or better scores on the floor, and then being forced to carry a 9.325. It was just that sort of night.
Is there anything to read into this meet? LSU traveled a long way, built up a huge lead, and then performed poorly in the second half of the meet. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and there's not much more to analyze. Could LSU have performed better? Sure. But it's hard to keep up the focus in those circumstances, and I'd much rather the team falter when nursing a massive lead than the prior week in a dogfight with the top team in the country.
Ashleigh Gnat won the all-around by default, as she was the only gymnast to compete in all four rotations, but she contributed to the disaster on the third rotation, scoring a 9.40 on the beam. The best all-around performance on the night belonged to Erin Macadaeg, who scored a 9.875 on both the vault and the beam, and then a resounding 9.95 on the floor. She posted the highest score on the beam and the floor, and it was only the fact she didn't compete on the bars which kept her from a much deserved all-around title.
Lady Luck was not with the Tigers last night, but as it turns out we didn't need her to show up. Perhaps she'll save a big performance for a meet in which we really need it.