On Friday evening, spring officially arrived for LSU sports fans. The sports calendar sprung to life, and the Tiger fan could watch LSU compete in baseball, softball, and gymnastics all at the same time. It was an overwhelming amount of LSU sports, all happening at once, and all by some of the best teams on campus.
Sorry, basketball. You had your chance. We're moving on to the bat and ball sports, and the only winter sport that still feels essential is gymnastics. This weekend, the gym team made its case on why you need to still pay attention to them.
The Georgia loss, and the Lexis Pressman injury, were both disappointing. But there's a big difference between disappointment and ruin. Almost every team will face adversity, the mark of a good team is how well you handle that adversity. This weekend was a chance for LSU gym to show off their quality.
Auburn came to town ranked in the top ten. The Tigers were also the team that knocked LSU out of the Championships last season. While LSU faltered in the postseason, Auburn was the team that took advantage of that wobble. LSU didn't just need to bounce back from last week, they wanted revenge for last year.
LSU responded to these pressures by positing their highest score of the season. On the same night that the top team in the SEC, Florida, set the bar with a 197.750 score against Mizzou, LSU made a statement of its own: We are a contender. LSU throttled Auburn in front of a home crowd, 197.825-197.125.
This was a meet in which almost everything worked. Coming off of a week in which almost everything went wrong, it was a release for fans to remember what this team is capable of. LSU put up big scores on every rotation, all culminating in a truly remarkable 49.700 on the floor. It became a game of I-can-do-better, as each gymnast on the rotation kept building off of the last and the wave of euphoria circling the arena.
This was a dominating performance against a team that was also having a good night on its own. It's not like Auburn laid over and played dead. A 197.125, on the road, is a good score. Outside of a shaky performance on the bars, Auburn valiantly tried to keep pace with LSU all night. They were just overwhelmed by LSU's near perfect night. Auburn didn't lose, LSU went out and won it.
This was a huge win for the Tigers, who really needed a win of any sort this week. After the Georgia meet, this team looked like it was at a low ebb. Instead, it was merely lying in wait for its next victim. And sometimes, a bad meet and little adversity is just what a team needs. It sharpens the focus and heightens the motivation, so as to get the taste of losing out your mouth.
But now it is time to focus again, because next week's opponent is big bad Florida, the defending national champions. If LSU is going to compete for titles, this is the measuring stick. LSU will go on the road to face perhaps the best team in the country. We'll see precisely where LSU rates by next Friday night.
There's a moment in Bull Durham in which Nuke LaLoosh strikes out the side, and he's enjoying the best performance he's ever had as a pro. When he gets to the bench, all he hears is criticism from Crash Davis, who tells him everything he did wrong, and how none of this stuff will work against a better opponent. "Can't I just enjoy the moment?"
Exactly. Moment's over. Now, on to the bigger challenges.