The big showdown for the SEC title never materialized. Florida’s plane arrived in town late, and then it seemed like the Gators didn’t show up to the meet until it was well under way. They stumbled out of the gate to a 48.925 on uneven bars, down seven-tenths after the first rotation. Even the usually reliable Alex McMurtry scored just 9.450 in the anchor slot, victim of a rare fall.
At that point, the party was just getting started for LSU.
And what a party it was. LSU dominated throughout, and saved its finest performance of the season for the SEC regular season closer. Taking that final bow, the Tigers blew the doors off of the Gators, 198.150-196.600. The Gators never stood a chance.
While Florida struggled on that first rotation, the Tigers jumped out, literally, to a huge 49.625 score on the vault. You know things are going your way on a rotation when you drop a score of 9.85 as the your lowest. Every other LSU gymnast scored at least a 9.90 on the vault, anchored by a perfect 10 from Ashleigh Gnat.
Florida seemed to steady themselves on the second rotation, scoring a 49.375 on the vault. Alex McMurtry bounced back in a big way, and matched Gnat’s perfect 10. LSU left the door open a little in the first half of the bars rotation, as the first half of the lineup struggled to put up big scores. No disasters, but nor was there that monster to put things away.
And then Sarah Finnegan and Lexie Priessman closed out the rotation with consecutive 9.925 scores. LSU ended up with a 49.425 on the bars despite looking a little shaky, and the lead held at seven tenths of a point at the midway point of the meet. The door remained open just a crack, but the Tigers had survived what would prove to be the biggest threat of the afternoon.
As DD Breaux often says, “Win the beam, win the meet.” LSU did just that. Erin Macadaeg kicked things off with a 9.95, followed up by Myia Hambrick’s 9.90. Meanwhile. Florida’s first two gymnasts on the floor scored just a 9.675 and 9.150. At that moment, the door had swung shut, and the meet was for all intents and purposes over.
There was a brief flicker of panic when Sarah Finnegan fell off the beam and scored a 9.325, but Ashleigh Gnat stepped up in the anchor leg and put forth another one of her terrific performances. Her 9.925 ended any chance the Gators might have had of a comeback. LSU scored a 49.475 on the beam and went into the final rotation needing a 49.475 on the floor to reach 198.00.
Gym performing the floor exercise in its home gym is about as great as LSU sports get right now. Heck, a 49.475 on the floor at home is almost a disappointment, given what this team is a capable of, buoyed by a boisterous home crowd. Neither the crowd nor the team disappointed.
Sydney Ewing, Myia Hambrick, and Sarah Finnegan all scored a 9.925. McKenna Kelly’s 9.90 secured a 198.00 overall score for the Tigers. When Gnat took the mat, there was literally nothing left at stake. LSU had won the meet, and the team had already cracked that elusive 198 barrier. It didn’t stop Gnat from unleashing another fantastic performance, scoring a meet high 9.950 on the floor.
SEC regular season champions. Undefeated in conference play. That’s one hell of an accomplishment and the team deserved its curtain call. They get to enjoy this for a few days, but now the postseason looms, and this season has been all about coming up big in the end. The SEC championships are in two weeks, and the march to the national title begins.
The regular season is over, and now it really is Dragon Season.
Watch a replay of the meet on SECN+ or at this link