No. 2 LSU gymnasts suffer third straight loss

With the meet coming down to the last rotation, LSU had two gymnasts fall off the balance beam and it was enough to allow No. 11 Kentucky to send the 2nd ranked Tigers to a third consecutive loss in a 197.100-196.800 decision in Lexington, Ky.

It’s the first time in 10 years that LSU (4-3 overall, 3-3 SEC) has lost three straight dual meets. Just like a decade ago almost to the day, it was Kentucky (4-3, 4-2 SEC) that gave the Tigers their third consecutive loss on Feb. 25, 2011 in Lexington.

“We are all disappointed, this is not who we are nor who we want to be,” LSU gymnastics coach Jay Clark said. “There were some really great all routines but we cannot continue to give away a tenth here or tenth there. After bars, I think they really answered the bell on vault. Ultimately, we weren’t clean enough.”

Individually, LSU won three events. Sophomores Kiya Johnson and Alyona Shchennikova tied for the vault title, Shchennikova also won the beam and freshman Haleigh Bryant won the floor.

But has been the case all season, LSU’s opponent brought its very best and the Tigers didn’t. Kentucky scored season highs in three events.

LSU’s first and last events of the night, the uneven parallel bars and the beam, ultimately spelled the margin of defeat.

The Tigers scored a season low 49.025 on the bars. Bryant led the squad with a 9.85. Johnson and Shchennikova and senior Sami Durante also scored 9.80. Freshman Olivia Dunne contributed with a 9.775. 

LSU needed a clean performance in the balance beam, the Tigers’ final event of the night and didn’t get one, Durante and senior Reagan Campbell both fell off the beam.

Campbell’s 9.350 was counted in LSU score. Shchennikova tried to counter by winning the event with a career high 9.925. LSU also used a 9.875 from senior Christina Desiderio and Johnson along with a 9.80 from senior Bridget Dean.

Durante also fell leading off on the vault, but the next five Tigers followed with strong performances earning the second-highest score in the country this season and fourth highest in school history.

Shchennikova nailed her Yurchenko 1½ for a career high vault of 9.95. Arenas followed with a stuck Yurchenko full for a career high 9.925. Senior Sarah Edwards scored 9.875 in the fourth spot, Johnson followed with a 9.95 and Bryant anchored with a 9.925. 

LSU’s floor lineup extended the squad’s lead to 147.975-147.800 in the third rotation. Desiderio matched her season high with a 9.90 in the second spot. Freshman Sierra Edwards scored 9.85.  In the fifth and sixth spots, Edwards scored a 9.90 and Bryant earned a 9.95. LSU also used a 9.725 from Arenas. 

LSU returns home to take on Missouri in the regular season finale at 7:15 p.m. CT Friday in the PMAC.

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