Haleigh Bryant wins SEC Gymnast of the Year, Jay Clark takes home Coach of the Year

LSU Gymnastics vs. Georgia
Haleigh Bryant won SEC Gymnast of the Years and five other Tigers took home All-SEC honors. PHOTO BY: LSU ATHLETICS

The 2024 SEC Champions and No. 2 nationally ranked LSU Gymnastics team tabbed multiple postseason SEC Awards, announced by the league on Wednesday morning.

Senior Haleigh Bryant and Head Coach Jay Clark earned two of the top awards in the conference this year. Bryant was named the 2024 SEC Gymnast of the Year while Clark earned Co-Coach of the Year honors for the first time in his career along with Kentucky’s Tim Garrison. The annual gymnastics awards are voted on by the head coaches from each institution.

Clark is in his fourth year as head coach of the Tigers and has already led the Tigers to new heights in 2024. This year, Clark led the Tigers to the program’s fifth SEC Championship and first title under his tenure. 

The team marked multiple milestones under Clark’s leadership in 2024, including an undefeated home season, nine ranked victories over top-20 opponents and two program high scores this year, with the highest score in LSU history coming in a 198.475 victory over No. 7 Arkansas and the program’s highest road score (198.425) at the Podium Challenge.

The team currently owns a program best National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 198.215 heading into postseason, marking the first time the program has surpassed the 198 NQS mark.

Clark’s efforts on the year led the Tigers to a No. 1 finish in attendance for the second time in program history. LSU recorded an average attendance of 12,590, the highest average in school history. A total of over 75,000 Tiger fans showed out to the PMAC across six home meets this year as the program welcomed three sold-out crowds in 2024, the most that LSU has seen in a single season.

LSU had five Tigers named to this year’s All-SEC team. Bryant, Ashley Cowan, Konnor McClain, Kiya Johnson and KJ Johnson all finished as the top performers in the SEC Championships last Saturday to earn them conference honors while McClain was also named to the All-Freshman team. 

The All-SEC Team is comprised of the gymnasts with the top two scores (including ties) on each event and in the all-around competition in both sessions of the SEC Championship. Similarly, the All-Freshman Team is made up of the freshmen with the top scores on each event in both sessions and also includes the freshmen with the top two all-around scores (including ties) in each session of the championship.

A native of Cornelius, North Carolina, Bryant was named the SEC Gymnast of the Year for the first time in her career. The senior is the sixth gymnast in LSU history to earn the award, joining past winners Sarah Finnegan, Rheagan Courville, Susan Jackson, Ashleigh Clare-Kearney and April Burkholder. 

Bryant recorded scores of 9.975 on vault, 9.925 on bars, and a pair of 9.950’s on beam and floor at SEC’s to finish in the top two on every event and secure her third consecutive year on the All-SEC team on top of her individual titles on vault and the all-around. It was her second individual championship on vault in her career at SEC’s and first in the all-around.

Bryant has solidified herself as not only the best gymnast in the conference, but in the nation this year. In her senior campaign, she has ranked as the No. 1 gymnast in the country nationally for 10 out of 12 weeks of competition thus far. She owns an NQS of 39.810 and the highest all-around score in the nation and in school history (39.925).

The senior has ranked individually in the top-10 on every event for four straight weeks and ten weeks in the top-25. She owns an NQS above 9.900 on every event and currently ranks first on vault, fourth on bars, eighth on beam and seventh on floor. 

As the top performer in the conference, Bryant has recorded eight meets with scores of 9.900 or higher on every event and has been recognized for her performances as SEC Gymnast of the Week six times, the most by any gymnast this year. She now owns 11 SEC honors in her career and has remained the top performer in the conference through all 12 weeks of competition in 2024 .

Bryant will continue to lead the Tigers as the team enters the NCAA postseason. She has already recorded 28 titles on the year, having won eight on vault, six on bars, two on beam, four on floor and eight in the all-around to move her career total to 88 (sixth most in LSU history). Her current 32 career vault titles is the second most in program history while her 27 in the all-around is the most by any LSU gymnast in their career.

Cowan had a standout performance on bars for the Tigers at the championships to earn her first individual SEC title and now All-SEC honors. Her score of 9.950 on the event matched her career high.

McClain continues to shine in her first year as a Tiger, garnering multiple SEC awards in her debut season. She was the only gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the championships last Saturday to secure her first title and join the All-SEC and All-Freshman team for the first time in her young career. She is the 19th gymnast in LSU history to earn All-Freshman honors.

Kiya Johnson, already a five time All-SEC member, added another award to her resume. The fifth-year senior posted a 9.975 routine at the meet to earn her second SEC title on floor and third career All-SEC honor on the event.

With one of the most electric floor routines in the conference and in the NCAA, KJ Johnson tabbed her first All-SEC award after scoring a 9.975 on floor at SEC’s.

Full list of the 2024 SEC Gymnastics Awards:

Gymnast of the Year: Haleigh Bryant, LSU
Event Specialist of the Year: Jocelyn Moore, Missouri
Freshman of the Year: Lily Smith, Georgia
Co-Coaches of the Year: Jay Clark, LSU and Tim Garrison, Kentucky 

Luisa Blanco, Alabama
Chloe LaCoursiere, Alabama
Maddie Jones, Arkansas
Hailey Klein, Arkansas
Frankie Price, Arkansas
Leah Smith, Arkansas
Cami Weaver, Arkansas
Lauren Williams, Arkansas
Julianne Huff, Auburn
Cassie Stevens, Auburn
Victoria Nguyen, Florida
Leanne Wong, Florida
JaFree Scott, Georgia
Lily Smith, Georgia
Anya Turner, Georgia
Isabella Magnelli, Kentucky
Arianna Patterson, Kentucky
Raena Worley, Kentucky
Haleigh Bryant, LSU
Ashley Cowan, LSU
Kiya Johnson, LSU
KJ Johnson, LSU
Konnor McClain, LSU
Amari Celestine, Missouri
Kennedy Griffin, Missouri
Hannah Horton, Missouri
Jocelyn Moore, Missouri
Sydney Schaffer, Missouri
Sienna Schreiber, Missouri
Mara Titarsolej, Missouri

Chloe LaCoursiere, Alabama
Julianne Huff, Auburn
Anya Pilgrim, Florida
Lily Smith, Georgia
Anya Turner, Georgia
Creslyn Brose, Kentucky
Konnor McClain, LSU
Kennedy Griffin, Missouri

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Tiger Rag News Services

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