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LSU vs Missouri Meet Preview

Tigers look for their first win of the year

LSU gymnast Aleah Finnegan wears a black and purple competition leotard and a golden crown while raising her left hand in the air. Around her, stylized text reads “Hitting Our Stride,” below which are LSU and Missouri athletics logos, below which is text reading “Friday, January 20; 6:00 PM CT,” below which is the SEC ESPN Network logo

LSU looks to keep the momentum from Monday’s meet.

The #9 Tigers are on short rest again, but they’re looking to build upon their last result. Despite the 197.600-197.450 loss to now-tied for #2 Oklahoma, LSU had a strong meet and went above 197 for the first time this season. Tonight, they look for their first win of the season against #12 Missouri in the PMAC. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., intros begin at 5:47 and the meet begins at 6:00. It’ll be televised on SEC Network. For those going to the meet, the first 1,000 fans will receive a free cancer awareness shirt. Note, all event and team rankings are based on the live rankings on Road to Nationals.

LSU vs Mizzou history:

LSU is 46-9 in all competitions against Missouri and 16-0 at home. One third of Missouri’s wins over LSU came in 2022, when they went 3-0 over LSU, beating them at Regional Semifinals 197.150-196.575, SECs 197.875-196.725 and a regular season tri-meet in Columbia 197.350-197.200.

About Mizzou:

Mizzou came into the preseason ranked #9. They’re coming off the best season in program history. They finished 4th at SECs and 5th nationally (previous best was 12th) while also qualifying for Nationals for the second time in program history.

Mizzou graduated 0 routines from last year’s team, returning fifth-year seniors Hannah McCrary (all but bars) and Alisa Sheremata (all but vault). They also bring in six freshmen, though Addison Lawrence in the only one who’s competed multiple events this year (bars and beam at both meets, vault at the most recent). The name you should be watching for is Helen Hu, a bars and beam specialist with tons of talent. Amari Celestine would be another, though she’s been out of the first two meets with an injury.

Mizzou’s 2-0 and coming off their SEC opener on Friday, January 13, a 196.975-196.425 home win over Georgia. They rank 30th on vault (48.950), 24th on bars (48.988), t-2nd on beam (49.450) and 8th on floor (49.313). That bars ranking is a tad misleading because it’s the average of 48.650 and 49.325, more a testament to last year’s inconsistency on the event. They weren’t inconsistent on bars or floor, though, and if Celestine is in the lineups, it’ll be a tough battle in the second half of this meet.

Shannon Welker is in his 10th season as head coach having built a solid program despite being given a rough foundation (Mizzou was 43rd the year before he got the job and 41st his first year). The Tigers of Columbia had to replace one member of their staff in the offseason after bars coach John Carney (not the former NFL kicker) left to take the same job at Cal. For some reason, they replaced him with Michigan State vault and floor coach Whitney Snowden despite the fact that associate head coach Casey Jo MacPherson is a beam and floor coach and Shannon Welker was the vault coach. Make it make sense.

About LSU:

LSU comes into this meet ranked 7th on vault (49.275), 7th on bars (49.308), 14th on beam (49.133) and 18th on floor (49.217).

Despite head coach Jay Clark’s earlier comments, Bryce Wilson will be out tonight. The training staff doesn’t want to rush her back too quickly, especially with how nasty her fall looked and its potential impacts on her neck. Jay said to expect much of the same lineup seen Monday, though yesterday’s press release mentions that Alyona Shchennikova is expected to do all-around alongside Aleah Finnegan and Haleigh Bryant (contrary to the meet notes). Jay also mentioned that Livvy Dunne will be out “indefinitely” with a stress reaction, though it’s expected to be a minimum of two weeks. Also, Kiya Johnson’s Achilles surgery went well Tuesday and she’s recovering.

The expected lineup for vault will see four 10.0 SV vaults and two 9.95 SV vaults (both Yurchenko Fulls (YF)). Elena Arenas will lead off with a YF, followed by Alyona’s Yurchenko 1.5 (Y1.5), followed by another Y1.5 from Chase Brock, then a YF from KJ Johnson, an Omelianchik from Aleah and a front handspring pike half from Haleigh that’s gotten a 10.0 both times she’s competed against Missouri in the regular season.

On bars, the expected lineup is Alexis Jeffrey, Elena, Tori Tatum, Aleah, Alyona and Haleigh.

On beam, the expected lineup is Kai Rivers, Sierra Ballard, KJ, Elena, Haleigh and Aleah.

On floor, the expected lineup is Sierra, Alyona, Chase, KJ, Aleah and Haleigh.

LSU needs to get their first win of the season tonight with a strong score.