Michael Jordan who?
The greatest of all time — arguably — is most famous for his “Flu Game” on June 11, 1997 — Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz with the series tied 2-2. Jordan racked up 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block to secure a win for Chicago.
LSU senior gymnast Sarah Finnegan did him one better — with two “Flu Meets.”
“If you didn’t think Sarah Finnegan was the Michael Jordan of gymnastics, she officially is now,” said fellow senior McKenna Kelley.
Finnegan said she got sick Wednesday night and felt the worst throughout the day on Friday, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from her performance over two days at the Baton Rouge Regional this past weekend.
“We got the go-ahead Thursday afternoon [for her to compete], and then she got a little bit better [Friday],” said LSU coach D-D Breaux. “She wasn’t 100%, but she sure did respond to a lot of positive treatment and good medication and a lot of rest and some love from her mom. She did not need to do floor, and we made that call early, early. That’s why we flipped the lineup.”
Finnegan said some rest and fluids did wonders for her.
She competed in three events in the first round of the regional on Friday, going 9.85 on vault, 9.90 on bars and 9.925 on beam. Breaux only competed five gymnasts on the floor Friday because LSU clinched the meet without Finnegan having to compete in the anchor spot.
She followed up with more of the same in the regional final on Saturday, where LSU edged out the competition with a score of 197.500. Finnegan went 9.90 on vault, 9.95 on bars, 9.95 on beam and 9.80 on floor, for a total of 39.600 in the all-around — the highest all-around total of the meet.
“I didn’t do practice [on Thursday],” Finnegan said. “I rested up, got some fluids. [Friday] I just warmed up all the events just to see how I was feeling and we decided not to do floor just to rest up a little more because we knew we had to go back-to-back. [Saturday] I was just a little fatigued on floor because I’ve been sick.”
Finnegan under-rotated on the final tumbling pass of her floor routine (9.80), causing her to land short. Breaux said that was the exact reason they didn’t put her in the floor lineup the previous day.
“When you get to that last tumbling pass it’s like sprinting two miles,” Breaux said. “Her legs were not quite underneath her enough on the take off and she landed a tiny bit short. You saw that routine go from a 9.95 to 9.80 in a snap.
“You saw why we didn’t want her to do floor last night, and McKenna kind of sealed that deal for us and showed a lot of senior leadership for the team.”
Breaux credited senior leadership for a lot of the things LSU has been able to do this season and the Tigers have persevered through a tough regional weekend with aches and pains across the board.
And with Finnegan, who has stayed virtually healthy throughout her entire LSU career, battling the flu, the entire team was able to step up to the challenge.
“My team had my back, and we knew McKenna was going to hit afterwards, so I didn’t need to go because the rest of the floor lineup did great,” Finnegan said. “I’m just proud of how everyone approached tonight because I’m not the only one that was feeling tired or sick or hurt.”