BATON ROUGE, La. — If one meet is any indication, the 2017 LSU gymnastics team just might be the best in LSU history.
Coming off a 2016 season where the team finished as the national runners-up, the Tigers set a school record for highest-scoring season-opening performance with a 197.825-193.600 win over Georgia.
“I’m just beyond words,” LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux said. “The best start ever happening after the best finish ever. Dropping the banner, the celebration, everything that the marketing and promotion of the university, all the energy and enthusiasm that they’ve poured into this program is humbling and it has made my career magical.”
With a 49.525 on vault, a 49.450 on balance beam and a 49.475 on floor, LSU set new school records for season openers in those individual events as well. The previous cumulative high for an LSU season-opener was 197.200, a mark the Tigers set versus Centenary in 2014. LSU finished third in the nation behind Florida and Oklahoma at the 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Championships.
LSU did not post a score of 197.825 or better until its seventh meet of the season last year. But still, Breaux pulled a page out of Ed Orgeron’s playbook and said she doesn’t think this early success is going to make for unrealistic expectations moving forward.
“We’re looking forward to the whole season,” Breaux said. “We’re really, truly not trying to impose expectations. They set individual goals. We talk about what this team is capable of doing. Everybody is on the same page. And when they pound on their chest and beat their heart, that means that this is one team and one heartbeat. They proved it tonight.”
Junior Myia Hambrick led the Tigers in the all-around, posting an all-around score of 39.575, but the story of the night might’ve been freshman Kennedi Edney. Competing in her first meet as a collegian, the former Junior Olympian participated in the vault and uneven bars, scoring a 9.875 on bars and a team-high 9.950 on vault.
Along with Edney’s vault, sophomore Sarah Finnegan and Ashleigh Gnat tied for the highest single score of any LSU gymnast with 9.950s on the balance beam and floor routine, respectively.
Breaux described Edney as a “fire-breathing dragon,” someone who needs to realize just how talented and dangerous she can be, adding that she likely will be added to LSU’s balance beam lineup soon. And how did Edney respond to those claims?
“Everything she says is true,” Edney said.
What’s next for LSU gymnastics?
The LSU gymnastics team heads to Tuscaloosa next Friday to take on No. 3 Alabama in a second-straight SEC rivalry matchup. The meet will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET and be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Despite LSU’s fantastic start to the season, Gnat and Hambrick said they believe it’s important the Tigers build from this rather than be content. The team isn’t perfect yet, so it shouldn’t practice like it is.
“Like Ashleigh said, we still had spots,” Hambrick said. “We had handstands and landings that we didn’t 100 percent do. Which is fine, it’s the first meet. But the fact that there are places that we can still improve, it’s pretty promising.”