This is a new Tigers gym team, but it got largely the same results. Four freshman saw action in the SEC opener and of the 24 spots in the all-around rotation, exactly half of them had a new face from the Super Six.
Transition can be scary, but it’s made a lot easier when Sarah Finnegan puts up a career high all-around score of 39.650. Finnegan had begun to assert herself as a key cog of the team last season, but now she’s working without a net, and she passed her first test with flying colors. This is now her team, and she is the team anchor, along with Myia Hambrick.
Hambrick, on the other hand, did not have her best meet. She stumbled out of the gate in the anchor leg of the vault, failing to spot her landing and scoring just a 9.325. That’s the bad news. The good news is she rallied on the very next rotation, uneven bars, with a 9.925. there was no dwelling on the past and turning one bad rotation into an awful meet.
By the end of the night, Hambirck was scoring a 9.950 in the anchor leg of the floor exercise, and her early struggles on the vault were largely forgotten. If anything, this was a good development for a young team. The Tigers showed they could rally when their star gymnast falters. If LSU can score above 197 when Myia Hambrick scores a 39.050 in the all-around, imagine what they can do when she has a good night.
LSU usually blows the doors off the other team right out of the gates on its opening vault rotation. However, the team started a bit sluggishly, and Lexie Pressman was the only Tiger to score a 9.90 or above on the first rotation. The lowest score the team carried was Erin Macadaeg’s 9.750, so it’s not like it was a disaster, but this is not the kind of performance Breaux usually gets at the start of the meet.
49.175 on the vault is good for most schools, but it’s a subpar performance for LSU. That’s how far the bar has been raised these last few seasons. But if a team is going to struggle, you would rather it be on opening night and still score above a 49.00. You can tell how good the team is when a score that high is considered struggling.
The team responded on the uneven bars. While LSU has long been dominant on the vault, the uneven bars has been the team’s relative weakness. Oklahoma averaged a full two tenths of a point better on the bars, and that’s the difference between the national champs and LSU right now. LSU is great at the bars, Oklahoma is superlative.
Well, LSU made its first step at the rarified air of superlative. Four of the six gymnasts in the rotation scored a 9.90 or better, and LSU posted a 49.600 on the rotation, effectively putting the match away in the second rotation. It was the second highest uneven bars score in school history. Even more encouraging, three of the gymnasts in the rotation were freshmen or sophomores.
Satan’s Apparatus claimed one victim, Julianna Cannamela. Freshmen Chirstina Desiderio and Reagan Campbell performed well in the middle of the rotation, but it was the veteran all-arounders who brought it home: Sarah Finnegan and Myia Hambrick posted LSU’s highest scores. Shockingly, Erin Macadaeg faltered a bit on the beam, but given her past performance, I’m not worried about that at all.
The team closed out the meet much the way the rest of the meet had gone: flashing off their incredible skill, but still a little sloppy. Ruby Harrold took a deduction for stepping out of bounds, but again, the two veterans closed things out with big scores.
There is still tons to work on, but for the first meet of the season, this was a near perfect result. LSU cruised to a fairly easy win, the team kept alive its streak of scoring at least 197, but there is still tons of room for improvement. This team is nowhere close to reaching the pinnacle of its abilities. That should keep the other teams in the SEC up at night.