LSU Dominates at Season Opener
The NCAA season is officially upon us. #2 LSU beat #9 Georgia in their season opener with a 197.825, the highest score in LSU opening season history.
The LSU Tigers started off warm on vault but then the fire was unleashed when freshman Kennedi Edney stuck her one and a half twisting Yurchenko and scored a 9.950. The rotation continued with Myia Hambrick sticking her Yurchenko full for a 9.925. Ashleigh Gnat was the anchor with a superb double twisting Yurchenko with excellent height and improved form. She had a hop back for a 9.925.
Bars has a new lead off routine in Canadian senior Shae Zamardi. Due to an injury, the decision was made to take out her unique Markhelov release. Because of this and her difficult to stick double arabian, Zamardi was moved to the start of the lineup. The nice thing is that LSU now has a solid easily 9.8+ gymnast leading their lineup with the hope that scores will only build. Zamardi hit her routine for a 9.850. Hambrick had a great routine for a 9.875. Gnat was next in the lineup and got stuck on her full pirouette and lost her form in a few places to score a 9.775. Edney continued to deliver in her college debut with a beautiful Hindorff and a 9.875. Finnegan showed off her beautiful lines throughout her routine for a 9.9. Lexie Priessman has the anchor spot on bars and earned a 9.875.
Erin Macadaeg is back from a foot fracture to lead the Tigers off on beam. Macadaeg was training the all around but had to pull back for the first meet while recovering from her injury. She had an excellent routine without a single wobble for a 9.9. Lauren Li, transfer from Penn State, made her debut as a Tiger with a wonderful beam routine and a 9.850. Ewing, Finnegan, Gnat closed out the lineup with 9.9, 9.95, 9.875, respectively. Finnegan showed her triple wolf turn.
The Tigers then went to floor, the event for which they are well known for difficult tumbling and unique choreography. Sydney Ewing started things off with a 9.85. Senior Zamardi was 2nd up and mounted with a beautiful double arabian but had to take a large step forward. She earned a 9.850. Priessman had the 3rd slot. Unfortunately, she fell on her double pike dismount and scored a 9.200. Hambrick was up next with a cute but sassy routine. Her opening double layout was a little short but the remainder of her routine was solid for a 9.9. McKenna Kelley had a phenomenal routine with a double layout mount. Her second pass was a very open and high full in. She dismounted with a double pike and scored a 9.925. Gnat closed out the meet with a lovely double arabian at the start of her routine and scored a 9.950.
Notably missing from the floor was Ruby Harrold. An Olympic alternate in 2012 and an Olympian in 2016 for Great Britain, Harrold is best known for her unique releases on uneven bars. She competed at Gymnastics 101 where they mentioned that she had been ill recently and was working to get her strength back. She is a gymnast that has a Yurchenko 1.5, worth a 10 so I imagine they would want her in that lineup as well.
Myia Hambrick won the all around with a 39.575. Close behind was Ashleigh Gnat with a 39.525. Georgia's Sydney Snead finished 3rd with a 39.225.
Georgia had a rough meet finishing with a 193.600, their lowest opening score since 1999. Beam continued to be rough for Georgia having to count four scores ranging from 9.150-9.625. Highlights of the meet were all arounder Sydney Snead who had a hiccup on floor but finished well everywhere else, including Georgia's team high on beam of 9.800. Sabrina Vega made her return to competition for the first time in almost 4 years. She had some wobbles on balance beam to earn a 9.625. Her floor exercise was lovely, mounted with a full in, and earning a 9.775. Morgan Reynolds returned on 3 events (all but beam) after missing the majority of last year's season due to severe infection with E. coli.
Notably missing for Georgia was Natalie Vaculik who would be a helpful score on beam but especially on bars.
The Tigers will compete again next week against #3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Alabama just suffered a loss against #1 defending National Champions Oklahoma, 196.700-197.750. They will be eager for a win at home.
Photo by Chris Parent