This is the first gymnastics meet review in nearly a month, and for that, I do apologize. The basic reason is simple: I hate writing game reports, especially when we're just trodding over the same old ground. The team has a lot of talent, but it's young and therefore inconsistent. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Additionally, you can tell it's the lull of the schedule based on how the SEC Network has treated LSU over the past month. Look, we all know that gymnastics isn't the sport that pays the bills for ESPN, but they have shown a commendable commitment to showing nearly the entirety of the SEC gym schedule. I mean, if you got the alternate channels, you might as well use them.
Two weeks ago, LSU's meet had online-only coverage outside the ESPN family due to it not being an SEC meet. Of the five teams competing in the Fort Worth Invitational, two were from the SEC (LSU and Mizzou), but it was a national showcase and understandably outside of the ESPN contract. Last week's Arkansas meet, listed as an SECN meet, got pushed off to the alternate channels on my local service. No biggee, though I did lose the HD broadcast.
This weekend's meet against Georgia didn't even make it to the alternate SECN, getting pushed straight to ESPN3 online. It wasn't broadcast over the air until last night. Again, hardly an outrage because I doubt gym is pulling down huge ratings, and I consume a lot of sports online anyway. Still, it shows exactly how highly the powers that be rate this part of the schedule.
Let's start with the good news: LSU posted their third-highest score of the season, and they did it in a hostile environment of Athens. This meet will help out LSU's RQS and postseason seeding. Furthermore, the team lost Lexie Pressman before the meet to a foot injury, though DD Breaux does not seem to think it is a major injury. Stay tuned on that, but for the weekend, LSU stepped up capably and absorbed the loss of a key gymnast without breaking stride.
The bad news, of course, is that LSU lost. LSU's 196.800 was no match for the 197.525 score that Georgia achieved. Sometimes, you lose because you had a bad meet or didn't do all that you could do. And sometimes, like this weekend, the other team just goes out of their mind.
Georgia's previous high score of the season was a 196.775 score against Arkansas. Georgia crushed that by eight tenths of a point. Heck, LSU's score in this meet was higher than Georgia's previous season high. The 197.525 isn't just the highest score of UGA's season, it is their highest score since the 2013-2014 season. This is one of those times you just have to tip your cap to the other side for having an outstanding meet.
Georgia score a 49.425 on three of the four rotations, including Satan's Apparatus itself, the beam. That was the moment the early vibes of a possible upset brewing turned into something special. At the halfway point, the score stood at 98.675-98.475 in favor of Georgia, the difference being that LSU had a solid yet not spectacular score on the vault. It was a tight score, but surely LSU would take the lead on the floor while Georgia rotated to the beam.
Outside of Asheligh Gnat's 9.925 to anchor, LSU failed to post any huge scores, instead earning solid scores in the 9.8's. But that's the plan on the road: play it safe and grind out your scores. Georgia, on the other hand, turned out the best performance on the beam that any team has achieved all season. Three gymnasts scored at least a 9.900, and the lowest score they carried was a 9.825.
Instead of closing the gap on the third rotation, LSU found itself down even further: 148.100-147.750. It was gut check time, and to give credit, the Tigers came through. The first two gymnasts on the beam, Erin Macadaeg and Myia Hambrick, scored a 9.925 and 9.900, respectively. Georgia scuffled a bit on its first two floor routines, and suddenly, LSU was within .050.
It was as close as LSU would get. Syndey Ewing would earn the highest score of the remaining gymnasts on the beam, a 9.800, which was nowhere near what LSU needed to keep pace. Meanwhile, Georgia fed off the crowd and its momentum, and closed out the floor with score of 9.875, 9.900, 9.925, and then 9.925 again.
Win the beam, win the meet. Unfortunately, Georiga won the beam.