The No. 3 LSU gymnastics team looks to earn the program's fifth NCAA Super Six appearance with a top three finish in NCAA Semifinal I on Friday.
The Forth Worth Convention Center Arena is a familiar setting for LSU. The Tigers were there competing in the Metroplex Challenge nearly three months ago as LSU finished in second place, falling to the then No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners on January 30.
On Thursday, the Tigers were back in the 250,000 square foot facility for a two-hour practice session aimed at a little fine-tuning going into the NCAA Championships.
"Well it's different equipment and we need to get used to the equipment so that was part of the mission today," said LSU head coach D-D Breaux. "It's really bouncy and our kids have a lot of pop in their legs, so getting them to settle down and stick their landings was a major focus today."
In the Semifinal I meet, LSU (23-4) will be up against a host of familiar foes: No. 2 Florida, No. 6 Auburn, No. 10 Georgia, No. 14 Minnesota and No. 18 Stanford. The Tigers have faced and beaten four of the five opponents in the semifinal with Minnesota being the exception.
"Beating them before definitely gives us a little confidence, gives us a little edge but we know that tomorrow is just as much of a battle," said junior Ashleigh Gnat. "It's a big fight to get into Super Six and we're prepared for that."
"There's no coming in lax because the same ones that we've beat have turned around and beat us again," Breaux said. "The main thing is how we perform, it's not what anybody else does."
To advance to one of the three coveted spots in the Super Six, the Tigers need to finish in the top three on Friday.
Gnat, who leads the country with six perfect 10.0s, said LSU can not allow the weekend's high stakes to affect how they perform on the sports biggest stage.
"We always say, whoever is having the most fun is whoever is going to win so that's really our mantra," Gnat said. "That's really what we're getting after. Have fun. stay loose and just be ourselves and that's what's going to produce the best result."
According to Breaux, the Tigers will have dinner later Thursday evening, followed by a 10-minute massage for each team member before lights out.
LSU will have one of its earliest starts of the season on Friday. The Tigers will have an 8 a.m. wake up call before coming back to the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena at 10 a.m. The NCAA Semifinal I will start at 1 p.m.
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