Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA - LSU traveled to Fayetteville hoping to build on their first win of the season last week against Missouri in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, but the Lady Tigers dropped another close one, falling to the Arkansas Razorbacks, 197.475 - 197.250
The Tigers held a slight lead after the first three rotations, but faltered on the beam allowing the
Lady Hogs to escape with the victory.
Haleigh Bryant recorded her fifth straight all around title, finishing the night with 39.575
“We’re continuing to get better. We hit 24 routines, but we allowed the environment to get to us at the end,” said head coach Jay Clark. “It’s a decent road score that improves our average, but it was short of what we wanted to accomplish today. Now we have to get back in the gym and get better.”
Really Jay Clark? You inherited a gymnastics program loaded with talent and in each of your first three seasons the program has declined each year under your leadership.
Clark is known as a great recruiter but may simply not be head coach material, as he fizzled out in
similar fashion after his first season as the Georgia Bulldogs head coach.
This group of incredibly talented young ladies are now sitting at 1-4 due to a coaching staff's inability to coach up their mental toughness. This has lead to costly concentration mistakes. Mistakes that are costing them wins.
Since the great Dee Dee Breaux stepped down after the 2020 season, you can see the mental part of
the ladies performances slip, especially on the vault and beam.
The 2021 team had a great season and the beginning of the Jay Clark era looked promising.
The squad dropped three regular season meets that season, but finished in 2nd place at the SEC Championships meet. They would go on to finish 2nd at the Utah Regional advancing to Forth Worth, where the Tigers would place 4th in the semifinals
In 2022 the team dropped three meets during a roller coaster ride type regular season before struggling in the postseason, finishing with a disappointing 5th place in the SEC Championships meet. The struggles continued into the NCAA Raleigh, NC Regional where they would place 3rd ending their season.
Now, with a roster oozing with talent, the Tigers are sitting at 1-4.
One of LSU's strongest events, the vault, has sputtered, especially in 2022 since Clark's decision to
force longtime LSU assistant coach Bob Moore into retirement, replacing the legendary vault coach with Garrett Griffeth. Though, we have witnessed improvement in that area in 2023.
Also since Clark has taken over the program the beam event has struggled, as several
"lack of focus" performances have cost the Tigers on several occasions.
Are we witnessing the LSU gymnastics program steadily fall from elite status?
If so, when will Scott Woodward decide to step in and stop the slide?
If the Lady Tigers lose two or three more meets this season and fall short of or in postseason play, will
Jay Clark be forced to make staff changes at season's end or will he be forced to resign so the program can move in another direction? Only time will tell.....
Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Communications
By: Alyssa Leal
BATON ROUGE – The ninth-ranked LSU Gymnastics picked up its first win of the season against No. 12 Missouri in the PMAC on Friday night with a 197.150-196.525 victory.
"Overall, I'm pleased. There was a lot of good that happened out there tonight. We got a win, but we have to be able to handle prosperity. When you start a meet out and you're almost at a 99.000, you have to be able to put the hammer down, and I think that's the lesson to come away with from tonight," said head coach Jay Clark.
"I love this bunch. They're gritty, and you've seen that over and over. They don't quit and they understand that when a mistake happens, what happens next is the most important thing. I'm proud of who they are and I'm proud of their fight, but they also know we have to get better if we want to be the team we want to be."
The Tigers started off hot on vault, scoring a season high 49.475 on the event highlighted by a perfect score from junior Haleigh Bryant in the anchor spot. Junior Elena Arenas led off with a strong 9.825 followed by senior Alyona Shchennikova who earned a 9.875. Junior Chase Brock scored a season high 9.850 in the third spot as well as sophomore KJ Johnson who scored a 9.900. Sophomore Aleah Finnegan added another 9.850 before Bryant anchored with a 10 to take the title.
The perfect 10 marked Bryant’s first of the season and sixth in her career.
In the second rotation, sophomore Alexis Jeffrey led off with a career-high 9.925 to set the tone and earn her first title on the event. Arenas followed with a 9.850 in the second spot. Sophomore Tori Tatum had a career night in her second ever routine and earned a 9.900. Finnegan added another 9.850 in the fourth spot and Bryant anchored with a 9.900.
LSU finished the second rotation with a 49.425 and held on to the lead as the squad transitioned to beam.
The home Tigers were able to bounce back after a rough start on beam as Finnegan anchored with a 9.950 to take the title for the night. It was a career high performance from the sophomore. Bryant stayed composed and added a strong routine in the fifth spot with her 9.900.
LSU led Missouri 147.850-147.575 going into the final rotation in the PMAC.
In the floor leadoff spot, junior Sierra Ballard brought the energy with her 9.850 performance. Shchennikova followed with a strong 9.875 routine. KJ Johnson recorded a season high a 9.925 on floor and Bryant scored a 9.950 to finish off the night in fashion.
Bryant earned her fourth-straight all-around title against Missouri, as she matched her career high with a 39.750.
The junior also took the titles on vault and floor, moving her individual title total to 11 this season.
Finnegan's title on beam moved her total to three on the year.
The Tigers will be back in action on Friday, January 27, as the team hits the road to face Arkansas at 8 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA - The LSU gymnastics team took to the floor in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for the first time in 2023 looking for their first victory of the season after a disappointing 0-2 start, but the defending national champions and top ranked Oklahoma Sooners had other plans as the squeaked past the Tigers, 197.600-197.450,..
"Well, you never like to lose, but I'll tell you this. The kids showed tremendous fight and heart today. We went against the best team in the country and the defending national champions and showed a lot of guts," said head coach Jay Clark. "I'm just proud of their fight. After the emotion that surrounded Friday night with Kiya getting hurt, they picked themselves up, got on message, and competed fearlessly."
The 197.450 was the Tigers highest score of the season as they kept pace with the Sooners all meet long, but a key mental miscue late in competition killed any chance of an upset as Chase Brock fell to the mat on her final landing attempt on her floor routine, drawing a 9.150 score.
LSU started strong in the opening rotation on vault. After Elena Arenas opened with a 9.775,
Alyona Shchennikova recorded a 9.875,... Chase Brock scored a 9.800,... KJ Johnson landed a 9.875,... Aleah Finnegan recorded a 9.850 and then, cha-ching! Haleigh Bryant posted a 9.925,...
The bars were the Tigers best rotation event of the day with six impressive performances. Alexis Jeffrey led off the rotation with a 9.800, followed by Arenas with a 9.875,... Tori Tatum recorded a strong 9.875,... Finnegan scored a super 9.925,... Shehennikova landed a 9.875 and, cha-ching! Bryant rang up a 9.900,...
On the beam LSU was good enough to keep pace with the Sooners. Kai Rivers lead off with a 9.800 while Sierra Ballad recorded a solid 9.875,... KJ Jackson landed a 9.750,... Arena scored a very nice 9.875,... followed by, cha-ching! Bryant ringing up a 9.950 that I felt should have been a 10,... Finnegan finished off the beam rotation with a 9.775,...
The floor routines have recently been a strength for LSU and on this day four of the Lady Tigers flirted with a perfect 10. Ballard lead off with a fantastic routine, scoring a 9.900,... Shehennikova followed with an outstanding 9.925,... Brock recorded a 9.125,... Johnson danced to a 9.775,... then Finnegan and Bryant both finished with incredible routines. Finnegan with a 9.950 and Bryant with a 9.900,...
Haleigh Bryant impressively took the all around title on the day with a season high 39.675,... She has won the all around title in all three meets so far this season.
With the loss the Tigers are now 0-3 as they head into SEC play.
Next up LSU will host Missouri this Friday, Jan. 20 at 6:00pm CST in the PMAC.
Photos By: Michael Bacigalupi
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes
*John 14:6 - "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior)
Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Communications
By: Alyssa Leal
LEXINGTON, KY. – No. 10 LSU Gymnastics fell in its SEC opener against No. 12 Kentucky on Friday night with a score of 196.575-197.125 in Rupp Arena.
"Tough night losing Kiya and Bryce, but we have to keep moving forward and keep fighting," said head coach Jay Clark. "I'm proud of the leadership and fight we had to the finish, but now we have got to have some people step up."
LSU started off with a solid first rotation, scoring a 49.475 on bars. Senior Kiya Johnson led the squad off in Lexington, earning a 9.90 to set the tone. Sophomores Alexis Jeffrey and Aleah Finnegan both recorded new career highs with scores of a 9.90. In the anchor spot, junior Haleigh Bryant matched her career high with a 9.95 and took the individual title on the event for the night.
As the Tigers began their second rotation on vault, junior Elena Arenas led off with a score of a 9.80. Both Kiya Johnson and sophomore KJ Johnson posed strong routines to earn a 9.875. Bryant recorded a team-high 9.90 to round out the vault lineup.
The Tigers earned a score of 49.200 on vault and held on to the lead at the halfway point by a score of 98.675-98.625.
On floor, junior Sierra Ballard led off with a 9.85. Senior Alyona Shchennikova and KJ Johnson both added a 9.85 in the second and third spots. LSU finished with a 48.825 in the third rotation after Kiya Johnson suffered an injury in the sixth spot.
In the final rotation in Lexington, Kai Rivers started the beam squad off with a 9.85. After freshman Bryce Wilson suffered an injury in the second spot, the rest of the lineup continued their routines and battled through adversity. Bryant and Arenas had career nights on the event. Bryant matched her career high with a 9.95, while Arenas recorded a new career high, scoring a 9.925 after anchoring in place of her injured teammate.
LSU finished with a 49.075 in the final rotation and fell to the Wildcats with a final score of 196.575-197.125.
Haleigh Bryant earned a 39.575 on the night to take the all-around title on the night.The junior also took the title on bars and balance beam, alongside Kentucky's Raena Worley.
The Tigers will be back in action on Monday, January 16, for their home opener as they host No. 1 Oklahoma in the PMAC at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN2.
Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Communications
By: LSU Staff
SALT LAKE CITY – No. 6 Gymnastics fell to No. 3 Utah on the road in their season opener by a final score of 197.275-196.775 on Friday night in Salt Lake City.The Tigers 196.775 was the highest score earned in a road season opener in program history. The squad put on a strong performance in Huntsman Center despite the result.
“That was a solid start,” said head coach Jay Clark. “The difference in the meet was that we walked on almost all of our landings throughout the meet, and they didn’t. We can land better than that. I’m proud of the fight and the fact that we can go on the road and not fall. It’s a baseline start and we came very close to doing what we wanted to do, and now we’re going to move on to the next and focus on getting better.”
LSU started the night competing on bars. Senior Kiya Johnson leadoff with a 9.775, followed by junior Elena Arenas with a 9.75. Sophomore Alexis Jeffrey had a team-high 9.875 for her debut on the event. Aleah Finnegan added a 9.75 in the fourth spot and Alyona Shchennikova added another 9.775. Junior Haleigh Bryant anchored with a 9.825 to help the Tigers finish the first rotation with a score of 49.000 on the event.
Arenas opened the second rotation scoring a 9.85 on vault. Shchennikova and Finnegan followed with a 9.825 and a 9.85 in the second and third spots, while sophomore KJ Johnson added a 9.775. Kiya Johnson earned a 9.875 before Bryant anchored with a 9.900, taking the individual vault title alongside Utah’s Makenna Smith. The Tigers earned a 49.300 on the event and had a score of 98.300 at the halfway point.
Junior Sierra Ballard set the tone on floor by starting off with a score of 9.825 and Shchennikova followed with a 9.825 in spot number two. Bryant also added a 9.875 in the fifth spot and Kiya Johnson earned a 9.900 to help LSU finish with a 49.375 in the third rotation. Finnegan recorded a career high 9.950 to take the title on the event.
It was a 148.050-147.675 Utah lead heading into the final rotation in Salt Lake City.
In the final rotation of the night, senior Kai Rivers lead off with a 9.7 on beam. Freshman Bryce Wilson and KJ Johnson had impressive debuts, scoring a 9.775 and 9.725. Bryant had a strong routine and earned a 9.85 while Finnegan continued her dominant night, scoring a 9.900. The Tigers finished with 49.050 on beam to round out the fourth and final rotation on the road.
Utah kept the lead the meet and closed out the night with a 197.275 over LSU’s final score of 196.775.
Bryant and Finnegan finished as the co-all around leaders for the meet, both earning a 39.450 to share the title for the night. Kiya Johnson also competed in the all-around for the Tigers, earning a 39.400.
The Tigers continue their road trip as they take on Kentucky next week on Friday, January 13, at 5 p.m. CT on ESPN2.