Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Communications
By: Alyssa Leal
DENVER, Colo. – The sixth ranked LSU gymnastics team advanced to the Denver Regional Final on Sunday, April 2, after posting a score of 197.375 in the first session of second round competition on Friday afternoon.
The Tigers finished tied at the top with No. 11 Oregon State with their final score on the day and defeated Georgia and Nebraska to advance to the round of 16.
“We did just enough. It wasn’t pretty in all places, but we did enough, and that’s what matters,” said head coach Jay Clark. “That’s always the priority of this whole weekend. Whether you win, whether you’re second or whether you tie as long as you move on. This team has been through so much adversity, and they’ve been galvanized by it and come together as a group. So many kids stepped in, stood up and did the job. They’ve been fighters all year long and I’m proud of that.”
Elena Arenas led things off on beam for the Tigers in Magness Arena with her score of 9.825. Alyona Shchennikova followed with a 9.800 in the second spot. Alexis Jeffrey posted a 9.900 and Sierra Ballard added a 9.850. Haleigh Bryant tied for third highest beam score at a regional with her 9.950 routine to elevate the beam squad to the tie for the program’s sixth highest score on the event with a 49.325.
In the second rotation, Ballard led off with a 9.875 to start things off on floor. Shchennikova followed with another 9.875 and Chase Brock matched her career high on floor with her 9.925. Arenas posted a strong 9.900 routine and Bryant closed with a team-high 9.950 as the floor squad tied for second highest score at regionals with a 49.525.
The Tigers led at the halfway point in Magness Arena with a score of 98.850 followed by Oregon State’s 98.800, Georgia’s 98.600 and Nebraska’s 97.625.
On vault, Arenas led off with a 9.850 followed by Schennikova, who also posted a 9.850. Brock scored a 9.800 in the third spot and Aleah Finnegan came back strong and tallied the third 9.850 of the rotation. Wilson added a 9.825 before Bryant posted a 9.875 to close the third rotation with a vault score of 49.250.
The Tigers wrapped up the meet on bars, where Jeffrey led off with a 9.900. Finnegan and Shchennikova both added scores of 9.850 before Bryant anchored with a 9.925. The bars squad finished with a 49.275 to clinch the top spot and advance to the next round.
Bryant finished as the top performer in the meet with her all-around score of 39.700, which ties for the third highest score at a regional in program history.
The junior also took the titles on bars and beam with her scores of 9.950 and 9.925 on the events.
Her three titles on Friday afternoon moved her total to 29 titles this year with 10 on the all-around, nine on vault, four on bars, four on beam and two on floor.
LSU is one step closer to making their 32nd appearance in the NCAA Championships as they will compete for the program's 14th regional title on Sunday, April 2, at 6 p.m. CT in Magness Arena.
The Denver Regional Championship will feature No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Oregon State, and the top two finishers in the second session of the second round, which includes No. 3 Michigan, No. 14 Denver, Minnesota and Arizona.