LSU wins Regional, headed to NCAA Championships

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 2 LSU Gymnastics team (25-3, 5-2 SEC) is the 2024 Fayetteville Regional Champions after finishing first in the regional final on Saturday night to secure their spot at the NCAA Championships.

The Tigers finished first in the meet with their score of 198.250, defeating No. 10 Arkansas (197.825), No. 7 Kentucky (197.475) and No. 15 Minnesota (197.400). The team score on the night was their second highest at a regional, leading the Tigers to their 14th NCAA regional title in school history. The last time LSU claimed a regional was in 2019 at the Baton Rouge Regional.

LSU and Arkansas finished as the two top performers in the regional final on Saturday to advance to the NCAA Semifinals on Thursday, April 18 in Fort Worth. The Tigers and the Razorbacks will face the winner of the Berkeley Regional Final between California, Denver, Arizona State and Stanford.

“I’m proud of the girls. They had a consistent and steady mindset from start to finish. We had that one mishap to start on bars, but I think in the long run that makes us better. We’re battle tested,” said head coach Jay Clark. “This thing was as tough an environment as it could’ve been, and we had to bring our A game because everyone else did. Any four of these teams could have claimed their spot in Fort Worth and I’m just glad that we’re one of them.”

Sierra Ballard got things started at the meet for the Tigers on beam with her 9.800. Savannah Schoenherr added a 9.825 in the second spot. Konnor McClain, one of the top beam performers in the country, continues to show out on the event for LSU as she scored a 9.950. In the fourth spot, Kiya Johnson posted a 9.850 while Haleigh Bryant followed with a 9.925. Aleah Finnegan delivered in the anchor spot with a strong 9.900 to close things out.

It was a 49.450 beam rotation for LSU, their fourth highest in program history at a regional. McClain’s score earned her the title on the night, her eighth this year and sixth on beam. The Tigers took the early lead in Bud Walton Arena over Minnesota (49.425), Kentucky (49.400) and Arkansas (49.375).

In the second rotation, McClain had a strong leadoff performance on floor that scored a 9.900. Amari Drayton added another 9.900 in the second spot. KJ Johnson scored a 9.925 while Finnegan followed with a 9.950. Bryant earned a 9.925 to set up Kiya, who anchored with another 9.925. It was a 49.625 for LSU in the second rotation, their third highest score at a regional. The Tigers have recorded two program-best scores on floor across both days of competition at the Fayetteville Regional.

After being named regional floor champion in the second round last Thursday, Finnegan continued to show out on floor as she finished as the top performer in the finals on Saturday night. The title marks her eighth this year, fifth on floor and 22nd in her career.

The Tigers held onto the lead at the halfway point with their overall score of 99.075, followed by Arkansas in second (98.825), Kentucky in third (98.725) and Minnesota in fourth (98.675).

KJ Johnson came in hot with a 9.925 in the leadoff spot on vault to get things started in the third rotation. Finnegan followed with a 9.850 in the second spot and Drayton with a 9.875 in the third spot. Schoenherr scored a 9.800 before Kiya Johnson and Bryant closed out the rotation. Johnson scored a 9.900 in the fifth spot to set up Bryant, who closed out the rotation with a perfect score. LSU earned a 49.550 on vault, the third highest regional score in program history. 

Bryant’s perfect score was her 10th career on vault, making her the gymnast with the most vault 10’s in LSU history. Her performance earned her the title on the night as she now owns nine vault titles this year.

In the final rotation, the LSU bars squad finished strong with a 49.625, which is the highest in LSU history at a regional. Ashley Cowan recorded a 9.900 for the Tigers in the second spot and Kiya Johnson followed with a 9.925. McClain put up a strong 9.950 and Schoenherr added a 9.850. Bryant continued to have a record night after earning her second 10 at the meet, this time on bars to close out the meet.

The perfect score on bars was the first by any LSU gymnast during a regional, and the first time in school history that a Tiger has earned two perfect scores in the same meet at a regional. The senior now owns 18 perfect scores in LSU history with 10 on vault, four on bars, three on floor and one on beam.

With two 10’s on the night, Bryant finished as the top performer on vault, bars and the all-around at the meet with her score of 39.850. Her score on the night was her second highest this year. The senior moved her total to 31 titles this year, with 32 on vault, 15 on bars, 28 in the all-around and 91 in her career.

Next up, the Tigers will make the program’s 33rd appearance in the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth from April 18-20.

author avatar
Tiger Rag News Services

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


eight ÷ 4 =