No. 3 LSU Gymnastics taking on No. 19 Georgia in Athens looking to emulate home performances on the road

PHOTO BY JONATHAN MAILHES

The No. 3 LSU Gymnastics team (5-2, 2-1 SEC) will face No. 19 Georgia (1-4, 0-4 SEC) in Stegeman Coliseum on Friday, February 9 at 5 p.m. central time on SEC Network. 

“Our performance last Friday was a nice reset. This week for us is just about being the same team on the road that we are at home,” said head coach Jay Clark.

“We are an immensely physically talented team and I believe we can go 198 every time we step in a building, but we have yet to prove whether we have the mentality to where we can do it no matter where we go. The goal is not to duplicate a score or performance, but to improve each week and dial in on the attributes and mindset that we believe will get us where we want to be.”

The Friday Night Heights competition between the Tigers and the Bulldogs will be aired nationally with Bart Conner and Bridget Sloan on the call. The first routine is set for 5:02 p.m. CT in Stegeman Coliseum as Georgia begins on vault and LSU on bars. 

Live stats for the meet are available on lsusports.net.

Scouting The Bulldogs

LSU owns a 44-71-2 overall series record against Georgia and are 7-22-0 on the road in Stegeman Coliseum. The Tigers have won the last eight meetings against the Bulldogs, including the last three regular season competitions in Athens.

The last time the two teams met during the regular season was in 2023, when LSU defeated Georgia at home by a score of 197.700-196.925 in the PMAC, highlighted by Aleah Finnegan’s first career perfect 10 on floor.

Georgia moved up two spots in the week five standings to No. 19 after recording a season high score of 197.300 in their last meet against Florida and notched season high scores on vault and bars. Additionally, five Bulldogs notched season-high scores and four season-high scores were matched in their last meet.

The Bulldogs place in the top-20 on bars and beam while freshman Lily Smith ranks third in the country on bars. Smith captured her first all-around title in her second meet competing all four events, totaling a 39.600, marking the highest all-around score from a Georgia freshman since 2006.

Last Time On The Floor

The Tigers dominated in their last meet to take down No. 7 Arkansas by a score of 198.475-196.200 last Friday in the PMAC. 

The score on the night marked the highest in program history and is the highest in the nation by any team so far this year. The team’s 198.475 also ties for the 14th all-time best score in NCAA history.

LSU recorded a 49.525 in the first rotation to match their season high on vault that was led by Haleigh Bryant’s team high 9.975 in the anchor spot.

Savannah Schoenherr led the bars squad with a season high 9.950 to take home the victory. The title marked the first of her LSU career.

LSU posted a 49.625 in the third rotation to set a new season high and match the program’s sixth highest beam score. McClain earned a share of the top spot on beam after scoring a 9.975 for the Tigers for her third title of her career and second on the event.

Bryant recorded her second career perfect score on floor in the final rotation to extend her lead as the all-time 10 leader in school history, now with 12 in her career.

The Tigers closed the night with a 49.775 on floor and matched the highest score in school history. To top it off, the PMAC saw another top-10 crowd as 12,538 fans showed up to watch LSU take home the victory on the night.

Bryant’s performance on the night earned her three titles on vault, floor and the all-around. The senior finished the night with a season high 39.825 in the all-around and moved her career total to 69 titles, with 26 on vault and six on floor.

Johnson also finished the night with a season high 39.675 in the all-around against the Razorbacks as she recorded scores of 9.900+ on every event.

Week Five Rankings

The Tigers moved up to the No. 3 spot in the week five national polls after recording a program-high score on Friday night in the PMAC.

The squad’s 198.475 over No. 7 Arkansas  boosted the squad’s average to 197.590. The victory was the team’s fifth ranked win over a top-20 opponent this year.

LSU also ranks in the top-15 on all four events, including top-five placements on vault (2), bars (3) and floor (1). The Tigers moved up to No. 13 in the beam rankings after posting a season high 49.625 against the Razorbacks. Floor squad reclaimed the top-spot in the country this week after matching the school’s highest score on the event on Friday with their 49.775.

LSU’s victory over Arkansas helped boost their average across the board as the team enters this week with averages of 49.395 on vault, 49.485 on bars, 49.170 on beam and 49.540 on floor.

Bryant is the top gymnast in the country for the third consecutive week as she ranks No. 1 in the all-around with her average of 39.738 and owns top-10 placements on every event.

The senior has competed in the all-around in four out of five meets for the Tigers this year and enters this week with averages of 9.900+ on every event. She has tallied two perfect scores this year, moving her career total to 12 and extending her lead as the all-time 10 leader in LSU history.

Fifth-year senior Kiya Johnson also ranks amongst the top-20 gymnasts in the country after her performance this weekend. Johnson continues to build momentum each week as she returns veteran routines to the LSU lineups since missing last season.

Johnson continues to be a consistent performer for the Tigers as she recorded four 9.900+ scores against the Razorbacks. Individually, she ranks No. 25 on bars and No. 5 on floor. 

Konnor McClain earned a spot in the floor rankings at No. 9 this week. The freshman competed in the leadoff spot on the event for the first time against the Razorbacks and notched a career-high 9.975 for the Tigers.

Bryant, McClain Notch Week Five SEC Honors

Senior Haleigh Bryant and freshman Konnor McClain both individually notched SEC honors this week for their performances against No. 7 Arkansas.

Bryant was named the SEC Gymnast of the Week for the third time this year, the most in the conference through the first five weeks of competition.

Against Arkansas, Bryant finished as the top performer on the night and recorded her second career perfect score on floor to help lead the Tigers to a program-record finish over the Razorbacks. She took home three victories on vault, floor and the all-around to move her total to 69 titles in her career, which is seventh most in program history.

McClain builds confidence each week in her already impressive freshman campaign. She competed in three events for the Tigers on Friday night to earn her SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors and her second conference award this year.

The freshman competed in the leadoff spot on floor for the first time against the Razorbacks and notched a career-high 9.975 for the Tigers. She also recorded scores of 9.925 on bars and a 9.975 on beam to take home the title.

A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, McClain moved her career total to three titles after finishing as the top beam performer on Friday.

Program History 

Head Coach Jay Clark enters his fourth season leading the Tigers and 13th season overall as he continues to grow the LSU Gymnastics program. He is joined by Assistant Coaches Garrett Griffeth, Ashleigh Gnat and Courtney McCool Griffeth. Gnat is in her fourth season with the Tigers while the Griffeth duo enters their third season on staff. 

The Tigers climbed their way to the NCAA Championship Final in Fort Worth for the ninth time in program history in 2023. The Final Four appearance marked the second time that LSU has advanced to the finals since the format began in 2019 and the first time under Clark’s tenure.

Last season marked the program’s 38th straight appearance in the NCAA postseason and 40th overall appearance for the Tigers. With the team advancing out of regionals, LSU marked their 32nd program appearance in the NCAA Championships.

LSU has a total of 16 individual national titles across 10 gymnasts in program history, including current senior Haleigh Bryant who was named the NCAA vault champion in 2021.

The Tigers own four SEC Championship titles in program history, winning three consecutive titles from 2017 to 2019. The last time LSU took home the conference title was in 2019 in the Smoothie King Center, the site of this year’s conference championship.

The 2024 Squad

This year’s roster is composed of 22 gymnasts with 11 seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen. The Tigers welcomed two transfers this year in Savannah Schoenherr and Jillian Hoffman and four new freshmen as Konnor McClain, Amari Drayton, Kylie Coen and Leah Miller begin their first year in the Purple & Gold.

Cammy Hall is a sixth-year who is returning this year from injury, while fifth-year seniors Kiya Johnson, Alyona Shchennikova and Kai Rivers all returned for their final year of competition with the Tigers. 

Haleigh Bryant, Sierra Ballard, Chase Brock, Elena Arenas and Olivia Dunne all enter their senior year while Aleah Finnegan, Alexis Jeffrey, Tori Tatum, KJ Johnson begin their junior season. 

Ashley Cowan, Bryce Wilson and Annie Beard enter their second year as Tigers. 

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