Gym school, y’all.
LSU finally found a sport we can beat Bama in. After disappointing losses in football and basketball, it was up to the gymnastics team to restore the school’s honor, and finally take it to those crimson clad jackwagons. A record crowd of 13,729 cheered the purple and gold to victory.
The night had an inauspicious start, when Kennedi Edney seemed to tweak her knee on vault during warmups. She stayed in the lineup for the bars rotation, but DD Breaux pulled her from the vault and most notably, from her anchor slot on the floor.
The Tigers displayed their tremendous skill on the vault, but their high flying act worked a bit too well, as gymnast after gymnast overrotated their vault, and ended up with some awkward landings, causing repeated step outs. No one had a true disaster, and the step outs were the result of a high level of difficulty and some serious amplitude, but the deductions are still there.
Julianna Cannamela kicked things off with a 9.85, followed by Sarah Finnegan’s 9.90. the scores would go down from there. LSU ended up scoring just 49.150 on the vault, a rotation on which a big score is possible, and the best way to make a statement in a head to head meet. However, Breaux was taking the long view, encouraging her charges to make risky, difficult combinations with the knowledge the landings would suffer now, but come March, they would be able to hit them. This was a classic building for the postseason sort of move, and one that should pay dividends down the road.
Tied after the first rotation, LSU was locked in a tight struggle with a conference rival at home. Then LSU blew the roof off the place. Every gymnast in the uneven bars rotation scored at least a 9.90, as it became a stick parade. By the time the dust settled, LSU scored a 49.625, just shy of a school record, and had opened up a lead of over six tenths.
For all intents and purposes, the meet was over right then and there.
However, in order to make things interesting, LSU left the door slightly open on the beam. The first four members of the rotation all scored well, leaving it to the anchors to slam the door shut. Unfortunately, Reagan Campbell suffered a fall and Sarah Finnegan was all over the beam, scoring a 9.20 and 9.75, respectively. LSU still had a good score of 49.200, but not a great one.
To give Bama credit, they kept the pressure up on that final rotation. Down by six tenths going into the final rotation, they would need a perfect beam rotation just to have a chance. Mission accomplished, even with some rather unfavorable scoring on the first few routines. Nickie Guerrero would emphatically give her team one final shot with a spectacular 9.95 in the anchor slot, as Bama finished with a 49.350, their highest rotation score of the night.
LSU just needed to finish up strong on their premier event at home, the floor exercise. However, Ruby Harrold had a disastrous routine in the second slot, scoring an 8.925, putting the pressure on the rest of the rotation. The margin for error, which seemed so large, now was down to nothing, as Bama kept sticking beam routine after beam routine.
No need to worry, as Sarah Finnegan brought down the house with a 9.925, followed up by Myia Hambrick’s 9.95. The, the night ended as it began, with Julianna Cannamela pressed into service, and slamming down a monster score. She set the tone with her opening vault, and she sealed the win with a 9.875 on the final floor routine.
LSU wins 197.450-196.725. The score makes it look like it was never in doubt, but everyone in the building knows better. That was a nail biter. But it ends the way it was supposed to end, with Bama going home in defeat.