What a difference a week makes. Last week, we were talking about how LSU’s season was hanging by a thread and how time was running out on getting things together. Safe to say, the team got the message.
LSU had two of its best performances of the year, both in the same weekend. First, LSU held off a stacked field to win the GymQuarters Mardi Gras Invitation in Missouri. Now, why the Mardi Gras Invitational was in Missouri is anybody’s guess, but the team then returned to Baton Rouge to face off against Missouri in an SEC meet on Sunday. Who says the schedule makers don’t have a sense of humor?
The big thing for the Tigers was that the premier opponent on Friday night was #4 Utah, one of the biggest obstacles to making the finals this postseason. To go out to a neutral gym and get a win over a direct rival for postseason success was a tremendous statement win for a team that was in need of a big statement.
Unfortunately, almost nobody saw it because the event was not televised or even streamed online. Worse yet, the GymQuarters website is almost impenetrably opaque, making following the live stats or even getting a comprehensive match recap nearly impossible.
However, piecing things together, LSU trailed Utah at the halfway point of the match 98.650 – 98.525. The Tigers showed an ability to overcome adversity and rally when things weren’t going their way. This was the moment in the season where DD Breaux flipped the switch on the team. Especially after last weekend’s disastrous meet, LSU needed to show it could finish strong after a slow start.
LSU responded with a season high 49.475 on the floor to take the lead, followed by a 49.25 on the vault to hold on for a 197.250 – 197.075 win over Utah. That score might not be enough to beat the Utes in the postseason, but it was enough on Friday.
Buoyed by the big win, LSU returned home to the friendly confines of the PMAC to face Missouri, and they proceeded to burn the joint to the ground. The rally didn’t end with the final two rotations in the Mardi Gras Invitational, but the good performances continued through the weekend and into the next meet.
LSU jumped out to 49.350 – 48.900 lead after the first rotation. The vault, which has been the source of such inconsistency this season, instead was a rotation in which LSU asserted its authority. Every LSU gymnast scored at least a 9.800, and the top four scorers were exclusively Tigers.
Things would get even worse for Mizzou on the second rotation, as LSU scored a 49.425 on bars. Meanwhile, Missouri struggled to hit their landings, and by the halfway point of the meet, LSU held a near insurmountable 98.775 – 97.325. Somehow, things got even worse for Mizzou in the final two rotations.
By the time the dust settled, LSU again had set a season high on the floor (49.550) and a season high final score of 197.650. LSU won by over two full points. Only one LSU gymnast failed to stick the landing all night long, and that score was thrown out. The lowest score LSU had to carry on any even was a 9.800. LSU won every rotation, and a different LSU Tiger won an individual title and the all-around:
McKenna Kelly (vault), Ruby Harrold (bars), Sami Durante (beam), Kennedi Edney (floor), and finally Sarah Finnegan with the all around title at 39.575. Not only did LSU find its big scoring mojo, they won with a tremendous depth of scoring, with nearly everyone on the roster contributing, evidenced by five different individual title winners in the meet.
LSU isn’t all the way back yet, but this was a tremendous first step to showing this team can compete for a title. Step two? Doing it again.