Despite a rocky start, the LSU Tigers have earned their way into the 2019 NCAA gymnastics national championship and coach D-D Breaux's 800th career victory.
The Tigers will be one of four teams competing for the title and breaking in the first ever “Four on the Floor”.
The Tigers placed second to UCLA with a score of 197.5125. The Bruins jumped the Tigers finishing with a 197.6750 score during the first session Friday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas. The University of Michigan placed third while the University of Utah placed fourth, ending their seasons.
LSU started out on beam and had more difficulty than normal as the sophomore leadoff Christina Desiderio fell before finishing her routine.
Desiderio scored a 9.1125 for the Tigers, giving her next five teammates some points to make up for. The Tigers did not shy away as they made up for the fall with help from senior Sarah Finnegan who scored a 9.9375, and sophomores Sami Durante and Reagan Campbell who scored a 9.8375 and 9.8250.
Sitting in last place, the Tigers moved on to the ever so popular floor exercise. Senior Mckenna Kelley had an exceptional routine in the anchor spot scoring a much needed 9.9250 for the Tigers. Junior Kennedi Edney was right behind Kelley earning a 9.9125. These scores helped the Tigers move up to third place.
As the Tigers headed to the vault exercise, there was something different as vault coach Bob Moore was not able to make the trip due to a family emergency.
“Before we began vault we all decided to do it for Bob," Finnegan said. "Just knowing that we did our job was amazing. We really wanted to make him proud.”
The Tigers proved to be fighters as they scored the second highest score on vault of the season. Edney earned a 9.950 while Finnegan and Edwards both scored a 9.8875. Senior Julianna Cannamela had a phenomenal routine back from injury scoring a 9.875.
Heading into the final event which happens to be the Tigers highest season average, the Tigers were in the lead with a score of 148.0750. Junior Ruby Harrold executed her routine on the uneven bars earning a 9.900.
Following Harrold, Edney stuck her routine scoring a 9.9250 while Finnegan once again, flirted with perfection as the anchor earning a 9.950.
“We knew coming into today that we didn't need to be perfect, we just needed to qualify and do what we needed to do to get to Saturday. We know that we are fighting tigers and we were never worried. “ said senior Mckenna Kelley.
The Bruins and the Tigers advance to Saturday's national championship along with the two other highest scoring teams from Friday's second session.