BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU gymnastics team didn’t trot out its full lineup Friday night versus Texas Woman’s. It didn’t matter.
Veteran all-around leaders Ashleigh Gnat and Myia Hambrick took one event off apiece, but the team barely skipped a beat, as the Tigers throttled Texas Woman’s 197.475-192.625. LSU’s score was only 0.100 points lower than the Tigers’ winning score against No. 4 Alabama last week.
To LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux, the team’s low score was a combination of trying out more difficult routines and some stingy judging.
“I felt like the judges were judging the placement of where they were placed in our lineup and not necessarily the performance that was had,” Breaux said. “That’s an easy thing to get lulled into. It happens a lot. I think Myia Hambrick was the brunt of that on beam and so was Erin Macadaeg. Both of our first two beam routines should start at 9.90s if they’re as good as those routines were.”
Macadaeg and Hambrick both scored 9.825 on beam, and the team finished with a 49.350 on the apparatus.
Sarah Finnegan served as LSU’s sole all-around competitor Friday. Finnegan paced the Tigers on both bars and beam, scoring 9.925s on both, and finished with an all-around score of 39.300 out of 40 possible points.
Finngean, who doesn’t often compete in the all-around, stepped up in a major way Friday. As Breaux pointed out, Finnegan would’ve ended up dominating the all-around score instead of merely winning it had she not stumbled on one landing on her floor routine. And this is taking into account the fact that Finnegan didn’t show off her famous triple turn on the balance beam.
For LSU, Friday was all about expanding its depth. And, in many ways, that meant throwing some freshmen into the fire.
Freshman Ruby Harrold made her college debut Friday, participating on bars and showcasing her floor routine. The youngster fared well, posting a 9.875 on bars and a 9.850 on the floor. Harrold competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics for her native Great Britain, where her and her teammates finished in fifth place.
“Tonight was so much fun,” Harrold said. “It’s just completely difference scenery to what I’m used to. It feels so good to finally get competing again. It was so good to finally be out there. I had so much fun.”
But Harrold wasn’t the only freshman who impressed Friday. Kennedi Edney provided counting scores on the vault, bars and beam, but her biggest contribution was ending the night with an exhibition on the floor. Though the exhibition only earned her a 9.85, she received a standing ovation from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center crowd, a crowd which booed the scorers when they low-balled Edney’s routine.
“It was really special to me. That really built my confidence up, that I can do the floor routine that I know I can do. It was just really great to have a standing ovation.”
Breaux said that it’s safe to say that Edney will now be in the discussion to participate in the all-around as the season goes on.
“To see her go out tonight and perform that floor, I think that’s better than we’ve ever seen her do in practice,” Breaux said. “What she did in floor exercise was something that we’re going to look forward to seeing again. And again and again and again and again.”
The announced attendance for Friday’s meet was 11,532, the fourth-largest in LSU gymnastics history. As a frame of reference, the LSU men’s basketball team averaged 11,382 fans per game for the 2015-2016 season, and that was with future No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons on roster.
What’s next for LSU gymnastics?
The team travels to Lexington next Friday to compete against the Kentucky Wildcats. The meet will begin at 6:00 p.m. CT and will be telecast online on SEC Network Plus.