Gymnastics, LSUvsKentucky 3.14.14

LSU freshman Sydney Ewing flys on vault Friday, March 14, 2014 during the Lady Tigers' 197.800-195.000 victory against Kentucky in the PMAC

When LSU sophomore all-arounder Sydney Ewing stuck the landing on vault against then-No. 9 Georgia on Feb. 6, it was met with a thunderous roar from her home crowd, and she was rewarded with a then-career-high 9.900 from the judges.

It marked the second week in a row she scored a career-high in the event, and she made it three-straight weeks in the Tigers’ victory against Auburn last Friday.

She wasn’t always a staple in one of the nation’s top vaulting lineups. The Lafayette, Louisiana, native started her college career as a walk-on. She chose LSU because of its proximity to home and her everlasting desire to be a Tiger.

“I visited Georgia, New Hampshire, Southern Utah and [LSU],” Ewing said. “With scholarship offers from all of those other schools, it was a tough choice, but throughout the whole process, I knew that I wanted to be here … I’ve always wanted to be a Tiger."

It didn’t take long for Ewing to prove she was worthy of a scholarship. She scored a 9.825 or higher on beam 10 times in her freshman season, including a career-high tying 9.900 at the NCAA Championship Semifinals to earn All-American honors.

As the first freshman to earn First-Team All-American honors on beam since Jeanie Beadle in 1977, Ewing also became the first freshman in LSU history to qualify for the NCAA Individual Event finals. 

She finished the season in third place in the nation on beam, and LSU coach D-D Breaux rewarded her efforts with a scholarship.

“She definitely worked hard ,last year and this year, to step up when we needed her,” said senior all-arounder Jessie Jordan. “I am extremely proud of her for doing that. To see her hard work pay off is really enlightening to me.”

Ewing didn’t become complacent after her school-recordbreaking freshman season. Instead, she focused on improving in the area her coaches said they needed her to contribute the best she could.

This year, the team needed her to step up into the vault lineup after it lost graduating seniors Kaleigh Dickson and Sarie Morrison, and she has 

adequately filled that role.

“I had a feeling at the beginning of the year that she was going to be in my lineup and that she would make a statement,” said LSU vault coach Bob Moore. “Look at her. That’s exactly what she’s doing. She achieves more than she thought she could by making the most out of what she has.

“There’s the statement of having lemons and making lemonade. Well, she’s not just making lemonade, baby, she’s selling it and making a profit.”

Ewing competed in the vault lineup just once in her freshman season, but she already has four appearances this season and has made the most of them. After posting a 9.750 in her first appearance in the event, she answered with back-to-back scores of 9.900 and a new career-high 9.925.

She is No. 11 in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 9.869 and is third on the team only behind senior all-arounder and two-time reigning vault national champion, Rheagan Courville and freshman all-arounder Myia Hambrick.

“That’s an [event] that she made a concerted effort to improve on,” Breaux said. “This week and last week, we saw the real Sydney Ewing vault. Now, her standard of excellence is way up here, so we will expect her delivery way up here all the time.“ 

You can reach Jacob Hamilton on Twitter @jhamilton_TDR.

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