By: Brittney Achord
Da Boot Sports!
AUBURN, AL - It was all about setting season highs and career highs last night in Auburn for this LSU Tiger Gymnastics team. With a final score of 197.550 to 197.075, the No. 2 ranked LSU Tigers improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC for this 2021 season.
In a post meet interview, Head Coach Jay Clark stated, “I’m proud of the fight. They are continuing to grow. We still have not put a complete one together, but we are getting close. You can tell their confidence is growing. You can tell they know they’ve got what it takes, and we just keep moving on to the next one.”
The Tigers showed their depth with several new faces on each event, showing how strong this team can be. Post meet, Sami Durante commented, “We have a lot of people that can do a lot of great things.”
A new face to the all-around was Alyona Shchennikova and what a night she had! With season and career highs on three of the four events, Shchennikova finished 2nd in the all-around with a 39.525 behind Haleigh Bryant’s incredible 39.550.
Post meet, Coach Jay Clark recapped Alyona's performance for the night stating, “I’m just really proud of Alyona Shchennikova. The growth she has shown since meet one, and from last year doing one event, and now throwing in at the last minute going in for Kiya right before touch and hitting that beam set for us the way that she did. She’s shown so much growth and I’m just really proud of her being able to get in four events and be the presence that she is becoming for us.” Speaking with Alyona, she praised her teammates for helping give her the confidence needed event to event. “I literally cannot do it without them. When they say this is a team, that is what it is. This team is something else.” - Alyona Shchennikova.
LSU Bar Team Make a Powerful Statement to Start the Night Off
The Tigers got things started with not only a season high bar score, but the second best bar score in the nation, scoring a 49.475. When you hit six out of six routines, dropping a 9.825, it is a great night. Kiya Johnson got this Tiger team roaring with her powerful punch of a routine and her 9.90 bar score. Chase Brock would continue the momentum with a solid routine, scoring a season and career high 9.875. Olivia Dunne brought poise and grace, as well as another season and career high 9.925. The all-around duo, Haleigh Bryant and Alyona Shchennikova, would give two dynamic routines with matching scores of 9.825. It was Sami Durante once again who stole the night on bars with her mesmerizing routine that would score a 9.95.
Over on the vault the Auburn Tigers would put up a 49.150 giving the LSU Tigers the lead going into rotation two.
Three Career Highs Brought Victory on Vault for the Tigers
Chase Brock got vault started with an impressive yurchenko-full scoring a 9.800. Back in the vault lineup since January 15 against Arkansas, Kiya Johnson brought a 9.70 to the Tiger vault score. Alyona Shchennikova, Elena Arenas, and Haleigh Bryant amplified the night with matching scores of 9.90. Not only would this be season and career highs for Shchennikova and Arenas, a matching career high for Bryant, but also in a four-way tie, gave them three of the four titles on vault for the night. The LSU vault team finished with a 49.200 pushing their lead to 98.675 over Auburn’s 98.600.
A Night of Season and Career Highs Continued onto the Floor
The LSU floor lineup matched their season high of 49.450. The LSU Tigers continued on their march to victory, hitting six of the six floor routines. We would get to see new faces to the floor lineup tonight and they showed up and showed out, proving their place in this lineup. Bridget Dean opened on floor with a mighty routine that would score a 9.80. Reagan Campell brought another season high for the Tigers with elegance and control, scoring a 9.90 . Alyona Shchennikova kept her light shining with a stunning routine, adding another season and career high to her night scoring a 9.925 for the Tigers. Two new faces in the Tiger floor lineup would bring more energy to an already fully charged Tiger team. Sierra Ballard would light up the floor with her collegiate debut scoring a 9.825. Elena Arenas stepped into her collegiate debut with confidence and dominated her floor routine scoring a 9.875 for the Tigers floor team. All eyes were on Haleigh Bryant and her new addition to her second pass we have been hearing so much about. She handled it flawlessly! Bryant’s 9.925 floor score would keep LSU ahead of Auburn 148.125 to 147.875.
The Beam Team Secured Victory With Another Season High
What better way to end the night that has been filled with season highs, career highs, and new faces than with a season best beam score of 49.425. This Tiger beam team hit another six of six routines, dropping an impressive 9.85 score from Sami Durante. Christina Desiderio would open for the Tigers on beam with a season high 9.90. Haleigh Bryant commanded the beam and the all-around, matching her career high score and Desiderio’s 9.90. Bridge Dean brought a captivating beam routine that would add a 9.875 to the Tiger beam score. Alyona Shchennikova proved the capability and depth this Tiger team has. Shchennikova is the Cinderella of the night and as the clock struck midnight, Shchennikova put up another career high 9.875 with an enchanting beam routine that would also clinch her second place all-around spot. Anchoring for the Tigers, Reagan Campbell matched Schennikova and Dean’s scores of 9.875 with an exquisite routine.
The Tigers ended this magical night with a season high 197.550. They were able to come into the Auburn Arena, dominate each event, hit six of six routines on three of the four events, prove the depth they have on each event, and set season and career highs along the way. What a way to win on the road.
Next up, the No. 2 ranked LSU Tigers go head-to-head with No. 1 ranked Florida back in the PMAC on Friday, February 12. The meet kicks off at 6:15 CT and will be televised on the SEC Network.