LSU Wins Podium Challenge, Bryant Takes All Five Events

It was a record night for LSU as the team marked their highest program NQS with a new school record 198.125. The team’s performance on the night achieved the first time LSU has surpassed the 198+ mark. PHOTO By MICHAEL BACIGALUPI

The No. 3 LSU Gymnastics team (11-3, 5-3 SEC) finished on top of the Podium Challenge with their final score of 198.425 on Friday night in the Raising Cane’s River Center.

The Tigers topped No. 14 Auburn (197.050), George Washington (195.100) and Texas Woman’s (194.725) for their second highest score on the season.

“The thing that most pleases me about tonight is the completeness of the performance. This was our best performance this year regardless of score from top to bottom and the best we’ve seen all year long through all four events,” said head coach Jay Clark. “The team was loose, they were relaxed, and they handled business right. They didn’t let the score get to them and they didn’t let any distractions get to them.”

It was a record night for LSU as the team marked their highest program NQS with a new school record 198.125. The team’s performance on the night achieved the first time LSU has surpassed the 198+ mark. 

The Tigers also set a new program floor NQS after scoring a 49.675 in the meet to improve their NQS to 49.695, the highest floor NQS in LSU and NCAA history.

Senior Haleigh Bryant continued to shine for the Tigers after finishing as the top performer in the meet and took home all five titles on the night. Bryant now owns the highest all-around score in the country through the tenth week of competition and set a new school record with her 39.925 in the all-around.

Her score on the night is also the second best all-around score in SEC history and all-time fourth-best in NCAA history.

Bryant recorded back-to-back perfect 10’s on vault and bars and finished the night strong with a 9.95 on beam and 9.975 on floor. Her perfect score on vault was her ninth in her career to complete a season slam, as she has now recorded a perfect score on every event in 2024. She is only the 10th gymnast in NCAA history to record that achievement. 

The Tigers came out hot on vault with a season high score of 49.675 to match the program’s second highest score. KJ Johnson led off with a strong 9.925 followed by Aleah Finnegan, who scored a 9.900. Amari Drayton added another 9.900 before Savannah Schoenherr recorded a season high 9.950. Kiya Johnson scored a 9.875 and Bryant anchored the event with her ninth perfect score on vault and 15th in her career. LSU took the early lead in the River Center after the first rotation. 

“We’ve been working a lot of muscle memory for landing; not landing stiff and I think that showed here tonight. Those are the vaults we see a lot in the gym and I was happy with those results,” said Clark.

Bryant wasted no time picking up her 16th career perfect score, this time on bars. In the second rotation, Alexis Jeffrey led off with a 9.900. Ashley Cowan scored a 9.850 and Kiya Johnson and Olivia Dunne both had a 9.875. Schoenherr continued to have a strong night as she scored a 9.925 before Bryant anchored with her 10. 

It was a 99.250 LSU lead at the halfway point in the River Center. Auburn followed in second with a 98.550, then George Washington with a 97.850 and Texas Woman’s in fourth with their 97.650.

Sierra Ballard led off in her usual spot on beam, recording a 9.850. Jeffrey posted a strong routine in the second spot with her 9.900. KJ Johnson made her first appearance in the beam lineup this year and scored a 9.725. Kiya Johnson recorded a 9.900 and Bryant added a 9.950. Finnegan closed out the event with a 9.900. LSU scored a 49.500 on beam and rotated to floor for the final rotation on the night.

Dunne matched her career high 9.900 in the leadoff spot on floor to set the tone. Amari Drayton shined on the floor as she posted a 9.925 in the second spot and KJ Johnson followed with a 9.950. Finnegan had a 9.825 in the fourth spot before Kiya Johnson and Bryant closed with two 9.975’s, respectively. 

Bryant now owns 83 titles in her career with 29 on vault, 13 on bars, six on beam, nine on floor and 26 in the all-around. Her vault and all-around titles on the night moved her second in LSU history to tie Rheagan Courville for most career titles on vault and the all-around in school history

The Tigers host UNC for senior night on Friday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. central on SEC Network Plus.

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