Last season, LSU flirted with the #1 ranking all season, only to once again fall just agonizingly short of a national title. This year, the mission is the same: win the whole the friggin’ thing.
LSU opens this season ranked fourth in the nation which under the new postseason format, would barely clearly the bar to make the final grouping. No longer the Super Six, the championship round will now consist of only four teams, and LSU clearly expects to be one of them.
Gone is longtime anchor Myia Hambrick and beam specialist Erin Macadaeg. Who’s back? Pretty much everyone else. LSU even got stronger with the return of floor specialist McKenna Kelly, who missed last season due to injury.
DD Breaux’s most vaunted recruiting class in her storied career are now seniors, and they have run out of chances to win a title. It’s now or never. Lexie Priessman and Sarah Finnegan have lived up to every bit of the hype and they have accomplished virtually everything that a gymnast can, short of the national title. It is the last hurdle to leap.
Based upon the Gym 101 preview, LSU will again boast a strong bars lineup, which ranked top in the nation last season. The Tigers return every member of the rotation short of Hambrick, opening up a spot for Bridget Dean to slide into the rotation as the first option.
The real strength of the team won’t be one particularly rotation, but the depth of all-around contenders the squad has. It’s hard to see how anyone can keep the trio of Finnegan, Priessman, and Kennedi Edney from the all-around. Priessman did not compete on the beam last season, but she will be a contender for the open slots with Hambrick and Macadaeg gone. But Myia averaged a 39.516 last season on the all-around, and after a slow start, Edney scored over 39.500 in every NCAA postseason meet.
However, as we know, “win the beam, win the meet.” And that will still be the major challenge for LSU. Losing two members of the rotation on the beam will hurt, but it’s also an opportunity for either Priessman to compete in the all-around or for some of the super sophomores to expand into larger roles. Christina Desiderio has already staked her claim to the beam rotation, but she will likely be joined by Sami Durante or Bridget Dean.
This team is just as loaded as last season, though they hope for a slightly better result. It’s been wonderful to be on the podium, but that just has given LSU a close look at the champions, which is the ultimate goal.
The chance is there, and the time is now. Let’s do this again. It’s the best time of year around Baton Rouge. All we need is the final capstone of a national title to finally fulfill our destiny: #GymSchool.
The path begins tonight, with LSU hosting #8 Cal tonight in the PMAC. Tickets are selling fast as LSU will likely reset it’s own record for opening night attendance from last season. If you can’t get in, the meet will stream live on SECN+