Last Friday, 6 October 2017, LSU competed in its first intrasquad of the 2017-18 season. The Tigers had their best ever season in 2017, becoming SEC champions and finishing second at the National Championships. Individually as well, they shined at last season’s National semi-finals, winning three individual National titles out of five and a total of seven medals. Freshman Kennedi Edney won the vault title with a 9.9875, while senior Sydney Ewing won bronze with a 9.9625. Sophomore Sarah Finnegan tied for the uneven bars NCAA title in an unprecedented seven-tie victory with a 9.950. Senior Ashleigh Gnat tied with Utah’s MyKayla Skinner for the floor title with a 9.9625, with Finnegan, junior Myia Hambrick and sophomore McKenna Kelley tying for bronze with Florida’s Alex McMurtry with a 9.950. And Ashleigh Gnat and Myia Hambrick tied for bronze with Alex McMurtry on balance beam with a 9.9375, behind UCLA’s Kyla Ross and Oklahoma’s Chayse Capps.
At the end of the 2017 season, LSU said goodbye to its three extraordinary seniors: Ashleigh Gnat, Sydney Ewing and Shae Zamardi. To replace them, this fall they welcomed seven new freshmen: Reagan Campbell, Bridget Dean, Christina Desiderio, Sami Durante, Sarah Edwards, Olivia Gunter and Gracen Standley.
These freshmen have already found potential spots in the new lineups, and shined in the first intrasquad alongside their more experienced teammates.
On vault, the team features four 10.0 D-score vaults, including a big ones by senior Myia Hambrick and junior Lexie Priessman, and a new one by freshman Sarah Edwards.
On the uneven bars, four gymnasts out of six found their way back into the lineup, including Lexie Priessman, sophomore Rudy Harrold and Sarah Finnegan, who showed off a beautifully stuck double layout dismount. Two new gymnasts also found a spot on the lineup: senior Erin Macadaeg, who last season competed only on the balance beam, and freshman Gracen Standley.
On balance beam, Erin Macadaeg and Myia Hambrick retained their one-two leadoff spots, arguably the best opening duo in the nation. New faces were also seen on beam: junior McKenna Kelley, who last year competed only on floor and occasionally on vault, found a spot on the lineup, as well as freshman Bridget Dean, who showed off an impressive free-cartwheel into layout-step-out series.
On floor, the gymnasts still did not perform many tumbling passes on the hard surface, but preparation and conditioning seems to be going well. Ruby Harrold performed a one-and-a-half twist into front layout; Myia Hambrick showed off a sky-high two-and-a-half twist into punch front and a double pike; Sarah Finnegan produced an easy-looking one-and-a-half twist into two-and-a-half twists; McKenna Kelley competed a big double layout; and freshman Olivia Gunter also made the lineup, showing off a clean double pike.
Head coach D-D Breaux, who is now in her forty-first season at LSU, was pleased with her gymnasts’ performance. ‘We had a really great intrasquad today and took a step forward in developing depth’, she told lsusports.net. ‘We were especially pleased with the performance on bars and beam. Floor is still in the development stages and vault was great with a lot of height.’
LSU is beginning its 2018 season on 5 January, at home, against Arkansas.
Related: Meet the 2018 LSU Freshman Class
Article by Talitha Ilacqua