It just doesn’t seem to stop, does it?
In a shocking move, Konnor McClain announced she will not be deferring the 2024 NCAA season to focus on training for the Olympics like she announced in early 2023 and will instead enroll at LSU for the Fall semester. McClain is one of the favorites to make the 2024 Olympic roster, but she’s dealt with several injuries this season that have hampered her ability to compete elite. She’ll now have access to LSU’s training and recovery resources.
McClain began her Level 10 career in 2015 at Revolution Gymnastics in Cross Lanes, West Virginia, but she first earned fame in 2011 on the Steve Harvey-hosted Little Big Shots on which she said she’d be an Olympian. By 2019, she was an elite and had earned a spot on the U.S. junior team at the 2019 City of Jesolo Trophy at which she won the all-around and vault titles and finished 3rd on bars and floor. She earned senior status in 2021 and placed 3rd on vault and 4th on beam at the 2021 Winter Cup. She moved to the WOGA facility in Frisco led by Olympic champion and man reportedly under investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport due to psychological and verbal abuse since January 2022 Valeri Liukin after the U.S. Classic in May. She committed verbally to LSU that August.
She had a breakout 2022 season domestically and internationally. As part of Team USA, she won team titles at the DTB Pokal Cup and City of Jesolo Trophy. She won the balance beam title at the DTB Pokal Cup and finished 2nd on floor, but she cleaned up at the City of Jesolo Trophy by winning the all-around, balance beam and floor titles. Domestically, she won the all-around and balance beam titles and tied for 3rd at the Winter Cup in February. She then won the all-around and beam national championships at the U.S. Championships in August.
2023 hasn’t gone as well. She hasn’t competed this year because of various injuries to her back and, most recently, her hand. She moved to Pacific Reign just outside Seattle in April or May, but LSU listed her as being at Gymcats near her current home of Las Vegas, the same gym at which 2024 recruit Kailin Chio trains. McClain’s not going to defend her national championship because of recent hand surgery, but she hasn’t given up her Olympic dreams.
McClain is a five-star recruit in College Gym News’ rankings and is the 5th-highest rated recruit in the country that could make an immediate impact on beam depending on her health. Kylie Coen is the 7th-highest rated recruit in the country, which means that LSU is one of two schools with multiple top-10 recruits alongside Georgia. Add in four-star recruits Amari Drayton and Zoe Miller and three-star Brooke Simpson and that makes a very good freshman class.
There are no two ways about it, this is probably the most talented LSU team on paper in the history of the program. Before this, that was within reason, but now it’s a near certainty. They should be the class of the SEC since they return every routine from 2023 and added some from the transfer portal. The only reason they aren’t national championship favorites is that K.J. Kindler is a coaching wizard and doubting her team hasn’t worked out recently. Even then, LSU has the talent to compete with Oklahoma for a title if they stay reasonably healthy. Last year, people stepped up and showed their talent and grit. If LSU has stronger subs and better injury luck, they could contend for a national title. No matter what, this should be an incredible group to watch in 2024.