In front of a record breaking season opening crowd of 10,755 people, LSU defeated Arkansas 197.150-195.350.
With six of LSU’s 24 routines being either first or second time performers, the Tigers relied on the veterans to set the tone for the night.
After a fall anchoring one vault, senior all-arounder Myia Hambrick rallied back to score a 9.85 or higher in her remaining three events. With a 9.95 on floor, she captured her 29th career title.
It’s just something that I have to work on,” Hambrick said. “The whole team, including the coaches were like, ‘shake it off.’ That’s one event and we have three more to go, so we obviously can’t dwell on that.”
Junior all-arounder Lexie Priessman scored 9.90 on bars and vault, while junior all-arounder Sarah Finnegan stayed steady throughout the meet, setting a career high 39.650 in the all-around.
“Individual accomplishments are great, but my job is to help the team out and if my scores get to where I do have a new high, that just means that I helped the team,” Finnegan said. “I’m looking forward to going into the rest of the season. It was a great starting point, but we know that we can get better.”
The presence of veterans like Hambrick and Finnegan became evident when the Tigers came to a hiccup on beam. LSU uncharacteristically struggled on beam, posting its lowest event score of the night at 49.050.
Immediately, the Tigers rebounded in the floor lineup, posting 49.325 to reach the 197 benchmark.
“I tell the team all the time that we’re not going backwards,” Breaux said. “When we got the floor, they really dug in and brought it home. Myia and Sarah were absolutely beautiful, and everybody else just dug in and gave it all they had.”
Despite a strong veteran presence in the lineup, four freshmen competed in five events throughout the night.
“I told the kids before we started that they’re not supposed to be filling anybody’s shoes,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “I want them to wear their own shoes and get out there and define who this team is and what they’re all about. I think you saw a lot of energy, enthusiasm and great team chemistry. We’re going to build on that and move forward.”
Freshman all-arounder Sarah Edwards competed in both the vault and floor in her debut for the Tigers, boasting a 9.825 in both events.
“I was super thrilled to be out there and to experience what has led up to this point,” Edwards said. “D-D was on the sidelines encouraging me, and it kept my nerves at bay.”
Freshman all-arounders Christina Desiderio and Reagan Campbell competed on beam with scores of 9.825 and 9.725 respectively and Sami Durante led off on bars with s 9.875.
Breaux knows there is alway room for improvement among her team. Though LSU’s 197.150 was the highest score of the night in NCAA gymnastics, it would have been the lowest of all of least season’s meets.
“If you look at the freshman that competed throughout the night, even [Sami Durante] leading off on bars, it was an incredible effort,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “It’s a great place to start. If we can start at a 197 and get a little bit better each week and build on this, this team will truly be a team that represents the pride and tradition that they have enjoyed for many years.”