BATON ROUGE – The second-ranked LSU gymnastics team (13-1, 7-0 SEC), the Southeastern Conference regular-season champions, will take on the nation’s top teams in the 2017 SEC Championship at 5 p.m. CT Saturday inside Veterans Memorial Arena.
As the top seed in the Championship event, the Tigers will begin on vault and follow with bars, beam and floor. Saturday evening will mark the second time LSU has competed on podium this season. The squad traveled to St. Louis for the GymQuarters meet where they also began on vault.
The meet will be televised live on the SEC Network with Bart Conner, Kathy Jonson Clarke and Laura Rutledge on the call. It will also be streamed live on WatchESPN.com and the app with both event specific and team specific links so that fans can enjoy all of the action.
DD Previews SEC Championship
“We are extremely confident in this team and the leadership,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “This is the most difficult conference in the country, and we know all eight teams are going to bring their best on Saturday night. We just have to stay in our purple zone and focus like we have done all season.”
One of Two Teams in Country with 197 or Better All Season
No. 1 Oklahoma joins LSU as the only teams in the country to earn a 197 team score or better in every single meet this season. The Tigers have set six scores in the top-25 in school history so far this season. In the final SEC meet of 2017, the squad posted a 198.150 at home against Florida for the third-highest score in school history.
Vault Team Best in the Nation
Assistant coach Bob Moore has led the LSU vault lineup to the top spot in the nation based on RQS. The Tigers posted vault scores of 49.625 and 49.600 against Florida and at Alabama respectively. The scores are the top two in the nation by any team over the past two seasons.
Senior Ashleigh Gnat is the top vaulter in the nation as the anchor of the lineup. Gnat is the only gymnast with two perfect scores on the apparatus this season. The Lake Mary, Florida native has yet to score below a 9.90 on the event. For her career, Gnat owns 21 vault titles, which ranks eight in school history.
Tigers in the National Rankings
LSU owns the No. 2 spot in the fourth edition of the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). The vault team remained No. 1 in the nation. On beam and floor, the Tigers rank No. 2 and the bars team ranks No. 3.
Individual Rankings: Myia Hambrick: 11th AA, 9th FX, 20th VT, 20th BB; Ashleigh Gnat: 1st VT, 3rd FX, 11th BB; Kennedi Edney: 10th VT, 16th UB; Sydney Ewing: 13th VT; Lexie Priessman: 9th UB; Sarah Finnegan: 3rd BB; Erin Macadaeg: 20th BB; McKenna Kelley: 15th FX
Last Time Out vs. New Hampshire
The second-ranked LSU gymnastics team finished the regular season with a 13-1 record after a 197.875-195.300 victory over New Hampshire on senior night. With the win, Gnat, Sydney Ewing, and Shae Zamardi finished their careers inside the Maravich Center with a record of 28-0.
Gnat earned four of five event titles with three scores of 9.90 or better. Gnat totaled an all-around score of 39.700 for the second-highest total of her career. The senior earned a new career high on bars with a 9.90 and matched her best mark on beam with a 9.95. In addition to Gnat’s performance, freshman Kennedi Edney earned the bars title for the Tigers. Edney posted a new career high score of 9.95 on the event.
LSU’s History in the SEC Championship
The squad, led by Breaux, won the inaugural SEC Championship in 1981. Here is a breakdown of LSU’s finishes in the SEC Championship: 1st place – once; 2nd place – five times; 3rd place; 10 times; 4th place – 17 times.
Over the program’s history, LSU gymnasts have won 34 SEC event titles and 34 gymnasts have combined to earn 70 All-SEC honors. LSU has two SEC champions on the team heading to Jacksonville. Junior Hambrick won the 2015 vault title and Gnat won the 2016 floor exercise. Finnegan, Gnat and Hambrick earned conference honors last season. McKenna Kelly and Finnegan were also named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2016.