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.
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