Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Communications
By: Alyssa Leal
DENVER, Colo. – The sixth-ranked LSU Gymnastics team booked their ticket to the 2023 NCAA Championships after advancing out of the NCAA Denver Regional Final with their final score of 197.750 in Magness Arena.
No. 14 Denver took the regional title while LSU and Michigan finished the meet tied at second. In order to determine who would advance, the sixth score from each rotation was used to break the tie between the Tigers and the Wolverines. After including all six scores from both teams, the Tigers came out on top with a score of 237.050-235.725.
The squad notched the program's 32nd appearance at the NCAA Championships.
"The beat goes on. We weren't perfect, but this team just continues to fight and do enough to keep it going," said head coach Jay Clark. "I'm just so proud of them and their spirt and who they are as people. They do it for each other. This is a special group, and it makes it that much sweeter that we got through it in the fashion that we did against some very good teams."
LSU started off hot on vault with a score of 49.375 in the first rotation. Elena Arenas led off with a strong 9.900 to set the tone. Alyona Shchennikova scored a 9.825 in the second spot. Chase Brock posted another 9.900 and Aleah Finnegan followed with a 9.850. In her first appearance back in the lineup since the Florida meet, KJ Johnson earned a 9.850. Haleigh Bryant anchored with a 9.875.
The bars squad set a new LSU regional record score and a season high score of 49.525 in the second rotation. Alexis Jeffrey recorded a career high 9.950 in the leadoff spot. Ashley Cowan posted a 9.850 in her first postseason routine as a Tiger. Tori Tatum continued to show out for the squad as she recorded a 9.900 and Finnegan recorded 9.850. Shchennikova scored a 9.825 before Bryant anchored and recorded a regional program high score with her 9.975 at the Denver Regional Final.
In the third rotation, Arenas led off the beam squad with her 9.850 and Shchennikova followed with a scored 9.875. Jeffrey added another 9.850 in the third spot and Sierra Ballard followed with a 9.800. Bryant and Finnegan finished the rotation with scores of a 9.900 and a 9.950, respectively. The Tigers posted its fifth-highest score at a regional with their score of 49.425 on the day.
In the final rotation on the floor, Ballard started things off with a 9.850. Shchennikova put up a 9.900 and Brock followed with a 9.850. Arenas recorded a 9.875 and Finnegan added a 9.850. Bryant anchored with a 9.950 to keep LSU in position to advance. The Tigers finished with a 49.425 on floor to close out competition in Magness Arena.
LSU recorded the second highest regional score in school history with their final score of 197.750 to defeat No. 11 Oregon State and No. 3 Michigan in the tiebreaker and advance out of the Denver regional.
Bryant finished as the top performer on bars and floor in the regional final with her scores on the day.
The Tigers are one of eight teams headed to Fort Worth to compete in the NCAA Semifinals on Thursday, April 13, where they will face No. 2 Florida, No. 7 California and No. 14 Denver in Dickies Arena.