Win the beam, win the meet.
UCLA took DD Breaux’s mantra to heart, and came from behind on the final rotation for a shocking upset of Oklahoma. Peng-Peng Lee closed the meet with her second consecutive perfect 10, lifting UCLA to a remarkable 49.750 score on the beam, enough to edge ahead of OU for the title 198.0750-198.0375.
LSU, meanwhile, scored a program best 197.8375 in the Super Six, but it was not enough to win. Heck, it wasn’t even enough to make the podium, as LSU’s score only earned the Tigers fourth place overall, behind Florida as well.
While it is disappointing to not win the national title, you play games to win them after all, it is hard to be too upset by the result. Sometimes, you lose, other times, the other team wins. This was a case of UCLA winning rather than LSU losing.
We knew going in that it would take a score near a 198 overall to win the national title, given the way Oklahoma has performed all season long. Oklahoma did not disappoint, responding with their near metronome like consistency. OU scored between a 49.4250 and 49.5875 on its rotations, and finished with a 198.0375.
That looked like it would be a score good enough to win, until suddenly it wasn’t. The only way UCLA could have caught Oklahoma was with a perfect 10 from Lee in the anchor slot. The Bruins additionally needed every bit of the scores just before Lee, a 9.950 and 9.9875. It was a furious and improbable finish.
LSU did nearly everything it needed to do. LSU spent most of the meet in second place, just behind Oklahoma, and went into the final rotation with a chance to win. However, Oklahoma did not leave any room for error on the bars, and LSU scored a 49.4625 on the vault, not enough to close the gap. You knew it wasn’t going to be LSU’s night when Julianna Cannamela stone cold stuck her vault and scored just a 9.850. LSU couldn’t seem to get the big scores that the judges were tossing to other schools.
Looking back, LSU probably wants it’s uneven bars rotation back. While the other contenders all put up monster scores on that apparatus, LSU scored a 49.4750 on its first rotation. Normally, that would be a great score, but Oklahoma and Florida followed up with 49.5375 scores and UCLA scored 49.6375.
It was that sort of meet. LSU put up very good scores, displaying calm consistency in nearly every rotation. But they never could quite get that monster score to catch Oklahoma, and then UCLA started throwing up insane scores in their final flurry. Florida also closed the meet with a trio of scores greater than 9.90 to steal third place from the floor exercise.
Going into the final rotation, anyone had a chance to win. OU held a narrow lead with a 148.500, on pace for 198 again. LSU was in second, but Florida and UCLA trailed by mere fractions of a point. Oklahoma seemed to put the meet away with a 49.5375 on bars, its final rotation. At 198.0375, no one could conceivably make up the ground need to beat the Sooners.
Until UCLA, shockingly, did.
LSU ended up in fourth with its 197.8375, slightly behind Florida at 197.850. But its hard to be upset about a team putting up its best Super Six score in history. LSU’s score would have won the title nearly every year in past Super Sixes, it just happened to not be enough on Sunday. That’s no failure of LSU, that’s a testament to the accomplishments of the other teams.
It was a thrilling finish and a great final rotation. All four programs, all with a chance to win the title, competing at the same time and all putting up scores that would have won in previous years. No one faltered, it’s that UCLA was simply greater than everyone else in that fantastic finish.
It wasn’t the way LSU wanted to close out the season, but the Super Six era closed with a bang, and perhaps the greatest championship meet in the history of the sport. It sucks to be on the losing end of that, but it was great to be a part of it.