Back on the road for a normal meet in Missouri.
#3 LSU heads on the road for a dual meet for the first time this season, Last week, the Tigers avenged the demons of Kentucky meets past with a 198.125-197.600 win. Tonight, they face off against #9 Missouri at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network. Bart Conner and Alicia Sacramone Quinn will be on the call from the Hearnes Center.
Match-up history for LSU and Missouri
LSU is 48-9 all-time against Missouri in all competitions and is 10-5 on the road. The last time the two teams met on the same floor was in 2023, when LSU picked up their first win of the season 197.150-196.525 in the PMAC. The last time the two teams met in Columbia was in a last-minute tri meet with Arkansas in 2022 thanks to each team having postponed their initial meets with LSU. Missouri beat LSU 197.350-197.200. The last time the two teams met at Mizzou for a dual meet was in 2020 when LSU won 197.025-196.850.
About #9 Missouri
Missouri was ranked #12 in the preseason poll after a decent 2023 season. The Tigers finished 6th at SECs and 14th overall, and while that was worse than both finishes in 2022, it was still a good showing. That was Mizzou’s third 14th place finish in the last four seasons, so it seems like their comfort zone.
Missouri lost seven members of their 2023 team for a total of 5 NQS routines. Their biggest loss by far was the graduation of Helen Hu, the gymnast with the highest NQS on bars and beam for them in 2023. The Tigers added five freshmen, highlighted by vault and floor specialist Hannah Horton with 9.900s on each event already, and senior transfer Mara Titarsolej from LIU. Titarsolej is the reigning SEC Specialist of the Week after setting the Missouri bars record with a 9.975. She also got a 10 on bars at LIU, and I don’t know if there’s anybody else who holds a career record on the same event at two different schools. Watch out for her. Another person to watch out for is fifth-year senior Sienna Schreiber, the only member of the team with an all-around score in 2024.
Missouri is 4-1 on the season and is 1-1 in the SEC after Saturday’s 197.400-197.050 win at Georgia. They are tied for 6th with UCLA on vault [49.300], tied for 19th with Iowa State and Ohio State on bars [49.125], tied for 9th with Ohio State on beam [49.175] and tied for 9th with Michigan on floor [49.408]. Missouri’s vault and bars squads were their weaknesses last season. They appear to have fixed vault, but they are still okay on bars.
Missouri had to replace an assistant coach for the second straight year after Casey Jo MacPherson took the head coaching job at Pitt. Shannon Welker is in his 11th season as head coach of Missouri, and he’s mostly responsible for work on bars. He is assisted by assistant coach Whitney Snowden, the vault and floor tumbling coach in her second season with the program, assistant coach Lacey Rubin, the beam coach in her first year with the program after a year at Arizona State, and assistant coach Jackie Terpak, the choreographer in her first season with the program after a year at Arkansas.
LSU comes in ranked 3rd on vault [49.375], 4th on bars [49.492], 25th on beam [48.958] and 1st on floor [49.592]. According to Scott Rabalais of The Advocate, there’s a chance neither Kiya Johnson nor Haleigh Bryant do the all-around tonight. He note that head coach Jay Clark said “In a perfect world I wouldn’t have anyone doing all-around this weekend, but it’s a balancing act. We don’t want to sacrifice our ability to perform at a very high level, but we also want to try and protect people from overuse.”
Rabalais’ article indicates that Kiya would most likely rest on vault and Haleigh would most likely rest on floor. Aleah Finnegan is the top choice to replace Kiya on vault, which indicates that Chase Brock will remain in the lineup following her season debut last week. His article includes no hints about who would replace Haleigh on floor, but it would either be Aleah or Livvy Dunne based on who has competed in the first three meets. I don’t have solid evidence to suggest this, but I would not be shocked if Tori Tatum did bars this week in place of Ashley Cowan like what happened in the second meet of the season.
LSU hasn’t had a normal meet on the road this season. This a dual meet on a floor, not a quad meet on a podium. LSU needs to put up a strong road score and show that they can hit beam in a hostile environment. Not like this matters or anything, but a win tonight would also be Jay’s 100th in his career. The most important thing is that LSU keeps pace in the SEC with a good score and that beam hits.