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LSU at Missouri Meet Recap

LSU can’t find landings and falls short

Well that was disappointing.

LSU dropped their first SEC road meet Friday night with a performance that will soon be forgotten in a 197-325-197.225 loss to Missouri to drop to 1-1 in the SEC and 4-2 overall. LSU was ranked #3 at the time, making it the highest ranked win in Missouri program history, and it came on a night when LSU looked lost. Missouri remains the only team LSU has yet to beat outside of the PMAC when competing on the same floor since Jay Clark took over as head coach in 2021.

Here’s the standard preamble: the links will take you to a thread of all six routines from a given rotation, scores in parenthesis reflect my personal judgment of deductions and scores in brackets reflect my overall score of the routine. I will not be scoring two routines: Konnor McClain’s bars routine and Aleah Finnegan’s beam routine. Both included falls, and I didn’t feel like that needed to be relitigated.

One thing I need to get off my chest before starting this recap is the videography of the meet. Somebody thought it was good to film bars and beam from the front instead of from the side, so there will be points where I can’t judge certain elements like splits and handstands properly. They had better camera angles and chose not to use them. Anyway, onto the routines.

LSU Bars 49.400 (Mizzou leads 49.425-49.400)

LSU started with a strong bars rotation. Alexis Jeffrey led things off with a 9.875. She appeared to hit her first handstand (camera), had a perfect Maloney with straight arms throughout, was short on her bail handstand (.05), appeared to hit her final handstand, stuck her half-in-half-out (HIHO) with her hips just above her knees (no deduction) and failed to hold the finishing position for a full second (.05). This was a very good start. [9.900]

Ashley Cowan followed with a career-high-tying 9.900. She hit her first handstand, bent her arms to catch her Ray (.05), nailed her overshoot, appeared to hit her final handstand and stuck her piked-in layout. She held the finishing position for a full second. This was a fantastic routine that might need to stay in the lineup. [9.950]

Kiya Johnson followed with a 9.850 on a 9.90/9.80 split somehow. She was short on her first handstand, bent her arms in her Maloney (.05), hit her bail handstand, hit her final handstands, stuck her piked-in layout and held the finishing position for a full second. How did a judge get a 9.80 for this? [9.900]

Konnor couldn’t match her two previous routines and scored a 9.175 on a 9.25/9.10 split. She hit her first handstand, but she traveled too far back on her Church and couldn’t catch it without falling (.5). Jay helped her back up to the high bar where she hit a second handstand, had some leg separation (.05) in her Pak, had an imprecise (.05) low-bar half turn that never hit a handstand (.05), hit her final handstand and landed low on her HIHO which forced her to take a step forward (.1). She stepped back (.1) into the finishing position and failed to hold it for a full second (.05). Jay called the mistake “aggressive” in his Monday press conference and said he made sure she knew it was an okay mistake to make. She bounced back just fine.

Savannah Schoenherr shook off the fall and scored a 9.850. She hit her first handstand, hit a good Jaeger, hit her second handstand, was short on her third handstand (.05), hit her bail handstand, hit her final handstand and stepped back (.1) on her double front half. She then stepped forward (.1) into the finishing position and failed to hold it for a full second (.05). The dismount killed the hype the routine had on the bars, but Sav did what she had to and prevented a collapse. [9.700]

Haleigh Bryant finished things off with a 9.925. She went over on her first handstand (.05), bent her arms to catch her Jaeger (.05), hit her second handstand, hit her bail handstand, was short on her final handstand (.05), stuck her double front half and held the finishing position for a full second. This score was enough to win the meet’s bars title and was Haleigh’s 66th career individual title. She tied Jeanie Beadle for 7th in LSU history. It was a solid ending to a good rotation. [9.850]

Overall, this was a good start, and it should’ve been what LSU needed to carry over onto vault.

LSU Vault 49.325 (Mizzou leads 98.825-98.725)

The landings did not carry over to vault and LSU is now on a streak of 22 straight vaults without a clean stick. KJ Johnson led things off with a 9.875 on her Yurchenko Full (YF). She hopped back (.1) and held the finishing position for a full second. [9.850]

Amari Drayton followed with a 9.775 on her Yurchenko 1.5 (Y1.5). She had clear underrotation (.1), stepped back with her right foot (.1), took a sideways step with her left foot (.1) and a step forward with her right foot (.1) to get to the finishing position which she failed to hold for a full second (.05). This was a classic example of how bad SEC judging is because this was not a 9.8-worthy vault and yet it got one from one judge. [9.550]

Sav was next with a 9.900 on her Y1.5. She slightly underrotated it (.05) and hopped back (.1), but she held the finishing position for a full second. She’s shown a lot of improvement on vault after the first two meets. [9.850]

Aleah returned to vault after resting against Kentucky and scored a 9.800 with her Omelianchik. She hopped forward (.1), did an underarm swing to maintain her balance (.05) and lacked control in her finishing position (.05) which she failed to maintain for a full second (.05). This looked a bit off, and that unfortunately carried across the rest of her meet. [9.750]

Kiya followed with a 9.850 on her DTY. She had some leg separation (.05) in the first part of it, came extremely close to touching the left guideline (not certain, won’t deduct), took a step backward with her left foot (.1), slid her right foot (.05) over to bring her heels together in the landing and failed to hold the finishing position for a full second (.05). She could’ve rested, but she didn’t. [9.750]

Haleigh finished things off with a 9.900 (9.95/9.85 split) on her front handspring (FHS) front pike half. She hopped back (.1) and held the finishing position for a full second. This is the first time she’s failed to get a vault 10 in a regular season meet against Missouri. [9.900]

Overall, LSU failed to capitalize on an opportunity to do well because they couldn’t nail their landings. That isn’t good.

LSU Floor 49.150 (LSU leads 147.875-147-725)

This was unusually bad. Sierra Ballard led off with a 9.775. She hit her double layout (DLO), did a back 1.5 to and awkward and imprecise (.05) front layout (FLO), hit her switch ring to a short (.05) switch half and finished with an underrotated (not a deduction on floor, just vault it turns out, apologies for the misinformation) double pike that landed with a low chest (.05) and forced a step forward (.1). I can’t believe she managed to keep her other foot down and retain control, so give her major props for that. [9.750]

Konnor bounced back from her bars fall to put up a 9.875. She had a low chest (.05) on her DLO, hit her switch leap to a cheated (.05) switch full and finished with a solid back 1.5 to FLO. She’s doing well on floor to start, and that’s good. [9.900]

KJ followed up with a surprising 9.725. She had an awkward kick out of her full-in (not a deduction, just an observation), lacked some control (.05) in her back 1.5 to FLO, hit a good switch side to Popa and bounced back (.05) on her double tuck. She then took a really weird step (.1) out of bounds (.1) when she could’ve controlled her momentum. It was completely unusual. [9.700]

Aleah couldn’t improve on the prior score and put up a 9.350. She started with a beautiful double Arabian to stag jump, hit a switch ring to cheated (.05) tour jete half and then did a good back 2.5 to a low (.1) FLO before falling (.5). She finished with a hit split jump. There was something odd going on. [9.350]

Amari followed with a nice 9.875. She had a low chest (.05) and a step forward (.1) out of her DLO, followed with a perfect front through to double tuck, hit a whippy wolf turn (.05) with form that caused her to do 1.5 turns and finished with a good switch ring to okay switch leap. This was much better than the two routines before her, and she’s kept up her solid performances. [9.800]

Kiya finished the rotation with a 9.900. She slid back (.05) on her full-in, carried her momentum through her back 1.5 to FLO (.05), hit her switch side to a cheated (.05) Popa and stuck her double pike. This was very good considering the circumstances. [9.850]

Overall, this was a very off floor rotation, and it could be a result of not adjusting to the equipment. I asked some gymnasts I know who’ve had experience on the Hearnes Center floor. One of them, who competed there earlier this season said she didn’t notice much difference from what she was used to, but the other said she noticed a few dead spots when she warmed up on it, though she didn’t compete when she was there. LSU needs to be able to make those adjustments on the fly if they’re going to have long-term success.

LSU Beam 49.350 (Mizzou wins 197.325-197.225)

This was another solid beam rotation, but it was too little too late. Sierra led off with a 9.850. She had a good back handspring (BHS) layout step-out (LOSO), a good full turn, a short sissonne (.05) to short switch half (.05), a good kickover front and finished with a stuck roundoff (RO) back 1.5. She failed to hold the finishing position for a full second (.05). I’m impressed by Sierra’s poise in the lead spot, and I think she’s earned the right to keep it for a while. [9.850]

Annie Beard followed up with an overscored 9.750 on a 9.80/9.70 split. She started with a BHS LOSO with an arm swing (.05) and leg off beam (.1) to maintain balance, then hit a good full turn, hit her switch leap to cheated (.05) straddle half to beat jump, had her leg come off the beam (.1) again to keep her balance after her side aerial and stuck her cat leap to gainer full that had some piking (.05). She held the finishing position for a full second. This was unfortunate, but she seems to need to find her composure. [9.650]

Konnor followed up with a 10. No big deal, just the most perfect beam routine of the year so far with a hit switch leap to switch half, a good front aerial to BHS, a great wolf jump, a beautiful full turn, a good side aerial and a stuck gainer full. She held the finishing position for a full second. Konnor is the second LSU gymnast ever to earn a bars 10 and a beam 10 in their career, the other being Sarah Finnegan. Just like her first 10, it came out of nowhere. [10.0]

Kiya clinched the AA title with a 9.900. She began with a beautiful full turn, then hit a nice BHS LOSO, hit her split jump to split jump, nailed the best front toss she’s done all year, stuck her RO back double full and failed to bring her heels together in the stick (.05 for staggered feet). She held the finishing position for a full second. This was fantastic to say the least, and it showed her unwavering confidence. [9.950]

Haleigh finished her first meet in which she didn’t compete in the all-around since March 31, 2022, with a 9.850. She did a great front aerial to BHS, hit her switch leap to straddle quarter with an underarm swing to keep balance (.05), did a great full turn, had a slight check (.05) on her standing front, hit her split jump and had the slightest movement of her right foot back (.05) on her standing punch Rudi. She held the finishing position for a full second. It was good. [9.850]

Aleah finished off a rough night with a 9.100. She fell on her BHS LO LOSO (.5), hit her switch leap to split jump, hit a good full turn, had a small check (.05) on her front aerial and stuck her gainer full. She held the finishing position for a full second. Aleah had a rough time on bars and floor when she competed at Mizzou in 2022, and LSU needed a good score to have a shot at winning, so she deserves a break for this.

Overall, LSU did well enough on beam to win. Seriously, Missouri got overscored pretty hard on a few floor routines and I had LSU as the winner when I rescored it. That doesn’t matter, though, because at least beam looked good again.

Overall thoughts

Jay said that LSU gave away a chance at a good score in his Monday presser, and I think that’s the best way to look at this meet. They had chances to do well and they gave it away by not being clean on landings. That’s something they can fix, and they’ll need to do it quick. This meet is going to get flushed as January has turned to February. The next step is figuring out the sticks they’ll need to skewer the Hogs.