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LSU at Arkansas Meet Preview

The climb continues in Fayetteville

LSU gymnast Livvy Dunne stands in a black and purple competition leotard with her head turned left to face the viewer. She is surrounded by stylized text that reads “The mountains are calling.” Below her, stylized text reads “Friday, January 27; 8:00 PM CT” below which is the SEC ESPN Network logo.

LSU looks to keep pace and build a win streak.

The #8 Tigers get back to a normal schedule for the rest of the regular season tonight. They’re coming off a 197.150-196.575 win over now-#14 Missouri, the team’s first of the season. They scored lower than they did against Oklahoma, but they fought hard through a rough beam rotation and showed improvements in several key areas. Tonight, they look to build a win streak against #23 Arkansas at a sold-out Barnhill Arena (first time Arkansas’ ever done that for gymnastics). The meet begins at 8:00 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network.

LSU at Arkansas history:

LSU is 43-5-1 in all competitions against Arkansas and 8-1-1 on the road (only loss came in 2012). The Tigers and Razorbacks last met on the same floor at a tri-meet in Columbia, Missouri, in 2022 at which LSU won 197.200-196.800.

About Arkansas:

Arkansas came into the preseason ranked #15. They’re coming off a decent season in which they finished 6th at SECs and 16th nationally. They dealt with some injuries and Covid issues that kept them from reaching their peak.

The Razorbacks lost three seniors/super seniors from last year’s team, vault and beam specialist Amanda Elswick, bars specialist Maggie O’Hara, and vault and bars mainstay (and individual qualifier to Nationals on bars) Sarah Shaffer. They retained two fifth-year seniors, all-arounder Kennedy Hambrick (who earned an AA spot to Nationals) and beam and floor specialist Bailey Lovett. The Hogs bring in five newcomers, four freshmen and UCLA grad transfer Norah Flatley. Flatley is the biggest name to watch for tonight on their side because she’s an all-arounder with incredible talent.

Arkansas comes in 1-2 and 0-2 in SEC play. Their most recent meet was a 197.500-196.675 loss at Auburn. They rank 13th on vault (49.142), 37th on bars (48.675), 19th on beam (49.058) and 12th on floor (49.267). That bars ranking is low because they went 47.700 at Bama in their second meet, they went 49.100+ at the other two meets. They lack consistency on each event, not necessarily talent (they outscored Bama on every other rotation, but their abysmal bars score killed their shot at a win).

Jordyn Wieber is in her 4th season as head coach of Arkansas. She was the youngest head coach in NCAA gymnastics history when Arkansas hired her at just 23 years old. She coaches floor as she did at UCLA, her fiancée Chris Brooks coaches bars and Kyla Ross, another member of the Fierce Five and an NCAA legend, coaches beam. Wieber’s seen limited success in her early tenure at Arkansas, but she’s in the midst of a major rebuild to take the program to new heights both on the floor and off.

About LSU:

LSU comes into this meet ranked 5th on vault (49.325), 7th on bars (49.338), 18th on beam (49.088) and 16th on floor (49.238).

Head coach Jay Clark said that Bryce Wilson is working her way back on beam, but they’re not going to have her compete tonight to make sure everything’s fine. Livvy Dunne is still out because of a stress reaction in her shin. The press release and meet notes differ on the beam line-up because the press release says Alyona Shchennikova is doing all-around while the meet notes list her as an alternate on beam. Both Aleah Finnegan and Haleigh Bryant are expected to do the all-around as they have all season.

The expected lineup for vault will be the same as both meets last week with four 10.0 SV vaults and two 9.95s. Elena Arenas will lead off with a Yurchenko Full (9.95), followed by Alyona with a Yurchenko 1.5 (10.0), then another Y1.5 from Chase Brock, a YF from KJ Johnson, an Omelianchik (10.0) from Aleah and a FHS pike half (10.0) from Haleigh.

On bars, the expected lineup is Alexis Jeffrey, Elena, Tori Tatum, Aleah, Alyona and Haleigh with Ashley Cowan serving as first alternate.

On beam, the expected lineup is Kai Rivers, Sierra Ballard, Alyona, Elena, Haleigh and Aleah with KJ serving as first alternate.

On floor, the expected lineup is Sierra, Alyona, Chase, KJ, Aleah and Haleigh with Elena serving as first alternate.

LSU needs to build upon their most recent result and get another win as they climb to the top.