LSU Takes Care of Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The sixth-ranked LSU gymnastics team earned a hard-fought road win, 195.875-195.250, at No. 16 Kentucky on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum.
LSU (6-2, 2-1 SEC) swept all the individual event titles, and Rheagan Courville shared the all-around crown with Kentucky's Audrey Harrison.
For the second week in a row Randi Lau posted a career-high tying 9.90 on vault, and this time it was good enough to win the event, marking her first individual title of the season and third of her career.
Sarie Morrison captured the bars title for the fourth time in five meets this season with a 9.85, giving her six total titles this season and 21 for her career, including 12 on bars.
Courville shattered her career high with a 9.95 on beam to win the event title, her third beam title of the year and fifth of her career. Courville also took home the all-around crown with a 39.225, giving her eight total individual titles this season and 25 in her career.
Lloimincia Hall won the floor title with a 9.875, marking her third floor victory this season and the 13th overall title in her career.
As a team LSU tallied a 49.175 on vault, 48.875 on bars, 48.750 on beam and 49.075 on floor to finish with a 195.875, while Kentucky (4-3, 2-2) scored a 48.825 on vault, 48.500 on bars, 48.975 on beam and 48.950 on floor to end with a 195.250.
"The preparation for this meet was very good and our warm-up was very good, but we did not get off to a good start tonight," LSU head coach D-D Breaux said. "It was a character-building competition because we could have lost it. Kentucky is a much-improved team and they competed well, but we fought hard to get the win."
LSU led off the meet with a 48.875 on bars. The Tigers counted a 9.85 from Morrison, 9.825 from Kaleigh Dickson, 9.80 from Randii Wyrick, 9.75 from Courville and 9.65 from Jessie Jordan.
Dickson got the Tigers off to a great start on vault with a stuck landing to score a 9.875, and Wyrick earned a 9.80 in her first vault as a Tiger. Britney Taylor scored a 9.825 in what also marked her first vault as a Tiger, and Lau nailed her vault for a 9.90. Maliah Mathis and Courville finished the rotation with a pair of 9.775's.
After two rotations LSU had built its lead to 98.050-97.325 following Kentucky's 48.500 on bars. The Tigers earned a 49.075 on floor in the third rotation, counting a 9.875 from Hall, 9.85 from Jessica Savona, 9.825 from Dickson, 9.775 from Jordan, and a 9.75 from Courville.
LSU wrapped up the meet with a 48.750 on beam, led by Courville's 9.95, a 9.75 from Jordan, 9.725 from Hall, 9.70 from Ericka Garcia and a 9.625 from Dickson.
LSU will head to Columbia, Mo., for the first time since the 1998 season when the Tigers take on new SEC member Missouri at 6:30 p.m. CT on Feb. 8 in the Hearnes Center. Live audio will be available free of charge in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Auburn Equals Fouth-Best Score Total in Program History at Mizzou
COLUMBIA, Mo. – No. 17 Auburn Gymnastics posted an overall score of 196.725 to set a new season best score and equal the fourth-best total in program history behind its top scores of 2013 on all four events.
“Everyone saw tonight what we as coaches feel this team is capable of,” Auburn gymnastics head coach Jeff Graba said. “We still aren’t at full power, but this is a good night for us. I think we finally actually saw what they do in practice out on the equipment. It was a great environment, chaos, but they handled it perfectly. I don’t know that there is anything else we can throw at this team that it hasn’t handled in three road meets.”
Six Auburn gymnastics recorded career-best marks as it defeated Missouri, which posted a score of 194.575. Auburn’s overall score of 196.725 ties for the top road meet score in program history, equaling a 196.725 at Centenary in 2004.
Freshman Caitlin Atkinson was a star in the all-around competition. She posted the first two 9.9 scores of her career on vault and bars, while also adding a 9.85 on floor and a 9.875 on beam. She finished with a total of 39.525 to take her second all-around title of the season.
Auburn opened up with a season high score of 49.200 on uneven bars. That mark is the best for Auburn on any event so far in 2013. Leading the way was Atkinson, who posted her first career score of 9.9 or better.
The Tigers didn't count a score lower than 9.8 and added a 9.85 from Megan Walker.
Auburn backed up its season-best score on bars with a season high vault total of 49.125 in rotation two. Led by another 9.9 from Atkinson and a 9.875 from Bri Guy, Auburn pushed its lead out to more than a full point, 98.325-96.925.
The third rotation proved to be the strongest of all as Auburn posted yet another season-best event score with a 49.225 on floor exercise. That mark erased the score from bars as the top mark of the season on any event.
Leading the charge on floor was senior Toi Garcia with a season-high 9.875. She was aided by Atkinson and Guy with twin score of 9.85. Petrina Yokay added a career-best 9.825 and Missouri native Brittany Webster scored 9.825 as Auburn continued its strong night.
Auburn got two career high scores on balance beam as Caryn Kadous produced a career-best 9.825 and Abbey Habicht recorded a career-high 9.875. Atkinson and Megan Walker then added a 9.875 and 9.850 to wrap up a 49.175 for the Tigers, the top beam score of the season.
Atkinson led the way in the all-around and Guy finished with a season best score of 39.300 in the all-around, while Yokay totaled 39.100 in her second all-around performance of the season.
Auburn is in action next on Friday in Auburn Arena against Arkansas.
No. 1 Florida Downs No. 22 Arkansas on the Road
The No. 1 Florida gymnastics team (4-1, 3-1 SEC) used the nation’s second-highest total of 2013 to take the win at No. 22 Arkansas (1-3, 0-3 SEC) Friday in front a Barnhill Arena crowd of 5,278. Florida posted a 197.575 Friday while the Razorbacks turned in a season-high 196.175.
For the second consecutive Friday, the Gators were wearing pink. After tonight’s performance, the Gators may consider wearing the hue more often. Last week in the Gators Link to Pink meet, Florida used the nation’s top total of 197.65 to take the win and move into the No. 1 position in this week’s national rankings. Tonight, the Gators were sporting the color again for Arkansas’ Pink Meet and UF’s winning total of 197.575 stands second to last Friday’s total.
These pink meets are part of a Southeastern Conference initiative to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer and all league gymnastics teams will have a pink meet this season.
Tonight’s meet will air tape-delayed on CSS (Feb. 5 at 9 p.m. ET) and CST (Feb. 7 @ 1 p.m.).
The visiting team brought the No. 1 ranking into the last two regular-season meetings between these two programs with the home team taking the upset win both times. Although that particular nugget of information wasn’t discussed pre-meet with the Gators, the team did know this was a chance to show they were capable of strong scores even with personnel changes.
Florida was back in pink Friday for Arkansas’ Pink Meet. These pink meets are part of a Southeastern Conference initiative to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer and all league gymnastics teams will have a pink meet this season.
Tonight the reigning SEC Gymnast of the Week and 2012 NCAA all-around champion, Kytra Hunter, performed only in the uneven bars and junior All-American Alaina Johnson is still out resting her sore back.
Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn couldn’t have asked for a better response from the team.
“I was really happy with the way all of our athletes responded, especially knowing that we were going to rest Kytra on three of the four events and Alaina was still out. They knew we were going to change up the lineups,” Faehn said. “And what I loved was that every athlete stepped up and took ownership of their event. I have told each and every athlete who gets put in the lineup that they are capable of scoring an amazing score.”
Florida punctuated solid uneven bars and vault lineups with scores of 9.95. Junior Mackenzie Caquatto claimed her second uneven bars win of the season with her 9.95 and senior Ashanée Dickerson used the same mark to take her third vault victory of 2013. Freshman Bridget Sloan used a collegiate-best 9.925 to claim her second collegiate balance beam title.
Florida’s three all-arounders all were very close in the final scoring. Sloan shared her first collegiate all-around win with Dickerson at 39.55. It was Dickerson’s third all-around win of the season and the 16th of her career. Senior Marissa King posted a season-best 39.50 Friday to take third.
Mackenzie Caquatto said the team’s attitude was noticeable as soon as the team entered the arena for warm-ups.
“Tonight was a lot of fun. The team atmosphere was just amazing. Everyone just went out there and did the best they could and it started off from warm-ups. We went out there with great spirit as everyone was cheering for each other and wanting everyone to do the best they could, “ Caquatto said. “After everyone else had done great before me in the bar lineup, it just kind of set me up and set my mindset where it needed to be. I just wanted to do the best routine I could do for the team.”
For every competition, the team keeps a word in mind to keep their goals in mind for the meet. Tonight’s word – passion – was selected by Dickerson. The goal was to show the team’s passion for the sport and for each other. Sloan thought it was another step in the right direction.
“Tonight the atmosphere was just incredible. The whole team was on fire and we showed a lot of passion tonight. Ashanée had our word of the meet, which was passion. We really showed how much passion we had for each other and for the team,” Sloan said. “Again it was an incredible meet for everybody. We really came together as a team and supported each other 100 percent. I know I have been saying that a lot, but really each meet it gets a little better and better. There are only good things to come.
The top two teams in 2012 NCAA Championship competition meet next Friday in the O’Connell Center for one of the nation’s top dual meets of the 2013 season. Florida plays host to defending NCAA champion and No. 5 Alabama (3-0, 3-0 SEC) on Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. The first 1,200 through the door Friday receive an orange or blue light up stick. Look for Domino’s pizza box toppers for buy one, get one free admission coupons for the Florida-Alabama meet.
The Florida-Alabama meet airs on SUN Sports Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET.