Junior all-arounder Sarah Finnegan found herself in a familiar place in LSU’s last meet against the University of Missouri.
Although she came 0.025 points shy of clinching the all-around title, Finnegan set a career high in the floor event by scoring a 9.975. In all four of her events against Missouri, Finnegan never scored below a 9.85.
But the most fascinating part about the Missouri meet in regard to Finnegan is that she competed in an all-Southeastern Conference meet for the first time in her own home state.
Finnegan was born in California but was raised in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, 20 minutes southeast of Kansas City. Prior to her time in Lee’s Summit, Finnegan lived four hours east in St. Louis. Finnegan’s older sister, Hannah, was also a student coach at Mizzou.
“It was nice to just look up in the stands and see familiar faces,” Finnegan said. “[Columbia] is an hour-and-a-half away from Kansas City and an hour from St. Louis. It was cool to be in a familiar setting.”
Even with her family members from Missouri and many more members flying from California, Finnegan felt a lot more excitement than nerves when competing.
“Some of those people don’t necessarily ever get to watch me,” Finnegan said. “So it was cool to be able to perform in front of them.”
Since the beginning of Finnegan’s collegiate career in 2015, LSU has competed in the state of Missouri only four times.
Finnegan’s first collegiate meet in Missouri took place on Feb. 17, 2017, at the Mardi Gras Invitational in St. Charles. While she led LSU’s beam rotation with a 9.95, she finished fifth on bars with a 9.825.
But the last two times that LSU competed in Missouri, Finnegan had some of the most dominant performances of her entire career.
At the NCAA Semifinals last April, Finnegan clinched the national title in bars by scoring a 9.95 in the event. The then-sophomore achieved this in front of a national audience on ESPN, and ended up becoming the first bars national champion in her school’s history.
On the following night at the NCAA Super Six, Finnegan set a career high in the balance beam event by scoring a 9.975 and clinched one of her two career all-around titles on the exact same night.
But while the fourth-ranked Tigers are seeking to have a third-straight appearance in the Super Six, Finnegan’s focus for herself and her team is to still take things one meet at a time.
“I think that it’s always very important to keep the Super Six in mind,” Finnegan said. “But you don’t want to overthink it and be like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to the Super Six.’ It is still tough competition.”
In the SEC, tough competition is found in No. 5 Florida and No. 7 Alabama. Both of those schools are currently ranked inside of the top-10 and have been in the Super Six with LSU in each of the last two seasons.
Despite some struggles on beam, Finnegan is still thankful for the Missouri meet for putting things in a new perspective.
“Everything that we do in the regular season is preparation for the postseason,” Finnegan said.
LSU will be back in St. Charles this weekend to face Missouri, Arkansas and George Washington University for the Mardi Gras Invitational.