By: Brittney Achord
Da Boot Sports!
As the NCAA released the current NCAA standings for women’s gymnastics on Monday, January 25th, the LSU Women’s Gymnastics team anxiously awaited the results. These Tigers have been on a mission to do what has not been done before in what they have claimed as an “unprecedented” season. Their hard work, dedication, consistency, and relentlessness is paying off as the LSU Women’s Tiger Gymnastics program came in at No. 2 in the nation behind Florida.
Gymnastics rankings are much different than most sports. While the Tigers are 3-0 in the season, gymnastics rankings are based on a team average of the final score per meet, not the number of wins or losses. The Tigers hold an average team score of 197.008 after two 197+ competitions. However, the SEC added the Regular Season Champions where LSU holds two of the four titles since 2017.
When talking to head coach Jay Clark about this week’s standings, he noted “we don’t talk a lot about rankings.” He went on to say he does like for the team to know their ranking. He stated, “It points out that they are doing well, but that they need to continue to do better, that the job is not done. We haven’t done anything yet. The job is not done.” Right now, Coach Jay, Coach Bob, Coach Ashleigh Gnat, and Coach Ashleigh Claire-Kearney are focusing on taking it one day at a time. Between these four powerful, veteran coaches, they know how things can change in the blink of an eye.
The 2021 Senior Class is not unfamiliar with holding the No. 2 spot. In 2018, their freshman year, the Tigers finished out the last few weeks of the regular season at the No. 2 spot, ended as SEC Champions, Southeast Regional Champions, 2nd in the NCAA Semi-Finals, and 4th place in NCAA SuperSix. While the Tigers took fourth that year, their 197.8375 was the highest SuperSix team score in LSU school history.
In addition to being No. 2 in the nation, the Tigers also sit No. 2 on Floor, No. 4 on Balance Beam, and No. 6 on Vault and Bars.
While we have not seen as much of Sophomore Kiya Johnson this season due to an injury, she currently sits in the No. 1 spot on floor in the NCAA with her 10.00 opening night against Arkansas. Coach Jay stated in an interview earlier this week that Johnson is feeling better, however he does not want to push her too soon. We will likely see a slow transition back into the AA lineup for Johnson over the next few meets starting with vault and bars, then beam and floor.
Individually, Haleigh Bryant is rocking her freshman year. On Tuesday, the announcement was made that Bryant was SEC Freshman of the week, her third honor this season. So far this season, Bryant has captured two vault titles with a 9.90 against Arkansas and Georgia, the all-around title against Georgia, and career/season highs of 9.90 on bars and beam, and a 9.975 on the floor. In an interview earlier this week, Bryant was asked about how she felt going into last week's match up against the GymDogs after being named SEC Gymnast of the Week. “I definitely didn’t feel any extra pressure. I think I just had to go in there and do the gymnastics I do in the gym and take it one skill at a time and one routine at a time, and then it’s going to happen.” After Friday night’s upsetting floor score for Bryant, it was made aware that Bryant is missing an “up to the level” skill in her routine. The LSU coaches are working on adding an extra skill in Bryant’s middle tumbling pass to correct this deduction. Per Coach Jay, Bryant will continue her floor routine as is, with the deduction, due to an injury at the Arkansas meet. Bryant will keep working on the addition in practice in hopes of adding it in competition soon.
The LSU Tigers were set to take on the Auburn Tigers tonight in the Auburn Arena; however due to Covid-19 protocols, tonight’s tiger showdown has been postponed until a later date. This LSU Tiger team has done a phenomenal job overcoming all obstacles thrown their way this season. Per Coach Jay, “We are going to keep the momentum where it needs to be and continue to take steps forward… We will keep our nose to the grindstone and not get too far ahead of us and not look side-to-side a whole lot. We will focus on the five minutes in front of our face and get better.”
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