The LSU gymnasts, who made history by packing 13,000 fans into the PMAC earlier this season, have a chance to make some more history by winning LSU's first national championship in the sport.
The Tigers advanced to Saturday's Super Six for just the fifth time in program history with an impressive semifinals performance. No. 3-seed LSU had the nerve-racking challenge of sitting out the first rotation along with No. 2-seed Florida, but it didn't seem to matter.
LSU had a solid start on bars, despite missing one of its top performers. Freshman Sarah Finnegan scored a 9.9 that topped the LSU charts and was tied for third best overall in the afternoon session.
"We had a great start on bars and that was so crucial to our performance entirely," said junior Ashley Gnat.
Gnat, who had to substitute last minute for an injured Randi Wyrick on bars, came through in a big way on the beam with a team-high 9.9. It was also the third best score in the entire field, as LSU built a big gap between themselves and challengers Georgia, Auburn, Minnesota and Stanford.
The Tigers were in good shape heading into their two highest-scoring events, and Myia Hambrick did not disappoint. She led the way on the floor with a 9.925, which was the highest of the entire afternoon session. Hambrick's score finished runner up for the individual national championship on the floor.
Gnat came back to close things out on the vault with another 9.925, which was second best among all competitors, as the Tigers clinched a spot in the Super Six before they even finished their lineup.
No. 3 LSU went into the NCAA Championships ranked top 5 in all four events. The Tigers were ranked No.1 on vault, No.2 on floor, No. 3 on beam and No. 5 on bars.
LSU was solid throughout the meet, posting a 49.3250 on bars, 49.3000 on beam, 49.3750 on floor and 49.3375 on vault.
LSU improved to 27-5 overall after scoring a 197.3375, the second-highest team total at the NCAA Championships in school history.
With its 7th performance with a score of 197. 3 or better, the young team advances after falling short of the Super Six a year ago with so much senior star power in Rheagan Courville, Jessie Jordan and Lloimincia Hall.
However, with nine players who have yet to reach this peak, LSU head coach D-D Breaux doesn't want her team making a mountain out of a mole hill.
"You don't make it bigger than it is. It's just another meet. We've competed against a great Florida team at Florida, a great Alabama team at LSU and at SEC's," Breaux said. "I mean there are a lot of great gymnastics and we are one of those great teams and these young kids have to know that their gymnastics are good enough to measure up."
LSU along with SEC opponents Florida, Georgia, and Alabama earned a spot in the Super Six. No. 1 Oklahoma and UCLA round out the competition.
"What we did today won't be good enough. We've got to be a little bit better and I think this team knows that it's hard to get into this but once you get into it, you've got to just relax and let it go," Breaux said.
The Super Six meet will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday. LSU will have the same rotation as it had for the Semifinal I, starting with a bye before going through the bars, beam, floor and ending on vault.
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