Rheagan Courville wins second straight vault national title

Rheagan Courville
Rheagan Courville
Pictured left to right: Jessica Savona, Ashleigh Gnat, Rheagan Courville and Sydney Ewing. The coaching staff is behind them.
Pictured left to right: Jessica Savona, Ashleigh Gnat, Rheagan Courville and Sydney Ewing. The coaching staff is behind them.

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WAFB) - The LSU gymnastics team ended its season with the best finish in school history.

Junior Rheagan Courville tied for first place and claimed a national championship for herself in the vault at Sunday's individual competition. For a second straight year, Courville shared the vault national title at this competition. This time, she had a score of 9.975.

Other Lady Tigers were back on the big stage for individual competition. Sydney Ewing did well enough on the balance beam to wind up in a four-way tie for what amounts to the NCAA bronze medal in third place. Jessica Savona wound up in a three-way tie for eighth place in the floor exercise.

Arkansas' Katherine Grable, who won the title on floor exercise, matched Courville's score on the vault, so she won two titles.

The chalk is still settling on LSU's record-breaking season.

"It hasn't hit that we've done so well," said sophomore Jessica Savona.

"It hasn't sunk in completely," said freshman Ashleigh Gnat. "We're excited and we're just on cloud nine right now."

The Tigers finished their 2014 season with their second consecutive individual national title on vault from Courville.

"You look at the level of talent and how much competition there was just to get into the finals, and then to vault her very best of the weekend tonight, capped it off," said head coach DD Breaux.

"I didn't really focus on scores because I knew if I did that I would really try too hard and that's not what I wanted to do," Courville explained. "That's not what any of us wanted to do because we do our best when we're really not focused on result-oriented things."

Like the humble winner that she truly is, the Baton Rouge native remains all about the team.

"And the highlight of the season was last night, obviously, finishing third place with my team. We had such an amazing season and we started off so strong and to be able to finish in the place we did was really an exciting thing to share with them," Courville added.

It's taken years of second and third place finishes for teams like this year's national champions Florida and Oklahoma to finally break through and take home the team title. And with a third place finish, LSU said it is well on its way to doing the same.

"We really have something to use as momentum next year and something to use as a starting point. And I think we ended in a great place and set us up for a great place next year," said Courville.

"We definitely have to remember this year and remember the feelings that we had when we broke those records and when we came up a little bit short and just use that as momentum for next year," said freshman Sydney Ewing.

"This is just another wrung on the ladder and we have to keep climbing, keep going for what we want. So, we go in the summer and we train harder and we try different things and figure out our niche and what we can do better to make it to that No. 1 spot," Gnat added.

"We made that climb and we were there at the top. We showed that we weren't a one-week team or two-week team. Definitely, we have the drive to come back in and do as well as we did and even do better," said Savona.

All of those comments are music to their coach's ears.

"At the end of last night, they were very happy, very pleased, but still a little bit hungry. So, you take that home and you work it up, mix it into a new gumbo and get ready for next year," Breaux explained.

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