The LSU gymnastics team’s bid for a national championship ended in disappointment Saturday night.
Led by senior Ashleigh Gnat in her last meet as a collegian, the No. 2 LSU gymnastics team couldn’t live up to its record-setting performance Friday night, finishing second behind No. 1 Oklahoma with a 197.7375 at the NCAA Championships. This was the second-straight season that LSU finished as a runner up to Oklahoma.
Saturday marked the end of LSU’s unforgettable 2017 season, in which the team won the regular season and postseason SEC championships.
Oklahoma took the championship for the second straight year with an NCAA championship record score of 198.3875. Florida finished third with a score of 197.700, ahead of fourth-place UCLA (197.100), fifth-place Utah (196.5875) and sixth-place Alabama (196.000). Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols, Florida’s Alex McMurtry and UCLA’s Christine Peng-Peng Lee all recorded perfect 10s on the night.
LSU took a massive step back from its 198.275 score in Friday’s NCAA semifinals, a trend that was apparent from the start of LSU’s first routine. After setting the NCAA championships record for best floor session Friday, counting five scores of 9.90 or better, LSU only counted two 9.9s on floor as everyone took a step back from their Friday night score. Sarah Finnegan led the way with a 9.9125, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the team’s low counting score of 9.7625.
Things didn’t get too much better for LSU on vault. Despite the fact that the team came into the day as the nation’s No. 1 vault lineup, the Tigers didn’t score a single 9.90 on vault. Gnat and freshman Ruby Harrold led the way with 9.8875s as the team posted a combined 49.300. That score is more than a tenth of a point below the team’s season average and two tenths below its regular-season RQS.
After gathering itself with a bye, LSU came out on the uneven bars and showed out. Finnegan, Kennedi Edney and Lexie Priessman capped off the rotation with back-to-back-to-back 9.9s, leading to a team score of 49.3875. Though bars had consistently been LSU’s lowest scoring event this season, the Tigers did better on bars Saturday than on both floor and vault.
On its final rotation of the night, the balance beam, LSU showed the talent and potential it had showcased all season. Eric Macadaeg opened with a 9.9125, followed by a 9.95 from Myia Hambrick. Edney followed that with a 9.9375 and Finnegan posted a 9.975 of her own before giving way to Gnat in her last event as a collegiate gymnast. Gnat scored a 9.95, solidifying LSU’s second-place finish.
With the team’s superb efforts on beam, finishing with a team score of 49.7250, the LSU gymnastics team set a new NCAA record for best beam score at the NCAA championships.
In their final meets as collegians, Gnat, Sydney Ewing and Shae Zamardi finished memorably. Gnat scored her 9.95 on beam, plus a 9.9 on floor and a 9.8875 on vault. Ewing posted a 9.675 on floor, a 9.8375 on vault and a 9.825 on beam. Zamardi scored a 9.8375 on bars and a 9.7625 on floor.