LSU Gymnastics Looking For First National Title

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Talented Senior Trio Leading Way To Top

By John Ventola

LSU’s talented gymnastics squad takes another leap toward establishing itself as one of the nation’s premier teams when it faces defending national co-champion Florida Friday night at the PMAC. The Gator gymnasts are currently ranked No. 2 while the Tigers, 8-1 overall and 5-0 in SEC competition, are rated No. 3.

The Tigers, under the guidance and tutelage of Coach D-D Breaux, now in her 38th year

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Breaux In 38th Season Of Gymnastics Tutelage

at the helm of the program, finished third in the nation last season. With All-American seniors Rheagan Courville, Jessie Jordan, and Lllomencia Hall in top form, and a talented group of underclasswomen, LSU has its sights on the school’s first national championship in gymnastics.

Breaux has coached her squad to four Super Six competitions, 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2014. The Tigers finished fifth in ’08 and ’13, sixth in ’09, before their third place finish last year. Her solid recruiting has brought in talented gymnasts from all over the nation, with recent squads also having ladies from Ontario, Canada, Vancouver Island, Canada, Mexico City, and Honolulu as team members. Much like collegiate men sports, the Southeastern Conference is the kingpin—in gymnastics lingo, I guess it would be “queenpin”–and Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and LSU have been in the top echelon of gymnastics over the last decade.

The third largest PMAC crowd for gymnastics, 7,722, witnessed the Tigers’ solid dismantling of No. 9 Georgia two weeks ago when the squad totaled the third highest score in school history, 198.075. Jordan was held out of that meet for precautionary reasons, and freshmen Myia Hembrick (9.90s on vault and beam), and Erin Macadaeg (beam), stepped in and performed well.

Courville put on quite a show against Georgia, winning the five individual titles against the Gymdawgs, posting her second best career score 39.825, with a career high 9.975 on floor, winning the vault and bars with 9.95, and tying for the beam title with another

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Courville Has Been Miss Consistency

9.95. The Baton Rouge native’s consistency over her career has been special to watch. She has claimed two national vault championships, and is a five-time first team All-American. Last week at Auburn, Courville again won the vault with a 9.95, her 27th career vault title, and also won on bars with a 9.925, her sixth bars title of the season, and 16th of her illustrious career.

Jordan, from Houston, has steadily improved as an all-around performer for the Tigers. After sitting out against Georgia, she posted a 9.925 to win the beam title at Auburn. She has also established herself as a consistent performer in all events over her four season with the Tigers.

Hall continues to dazzle and excite fans with her exhilarating floor routine where the diminutive Dallas native combines mandatory dance moves with unbelievable control of her flips and footwork. Although floor is her specialty, Hall has also been a valuable all around performer for Coach Breaux during her career.

After losing two standout gymnasts from last year’s third place finisher to graduation, Kaleigh Dickson, and Sarie Morrison, Breaux has worked in freshmen Hamrick and

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Talented Sophomores And Freshmen Help Title Aspirations

Macadaeg, to complement senior contributor Britney Ranzy, and emerging sophomore stars Sydney Ewing and Ashleigh Gnat. Hamrick has enjoyed great routines on vault and beam in the last two meets, and Macadaeg has been outstanding in her beam routine the past two weeks. Gnat won the all-around at Auburn with a 39.550 while capturing the floor title with a 9.95, and Ewing posted a 9.925 vault in her three events. Ranzy, freshman Shae Zamardi, and juniors Randii Wyrick and Jessica Savona, have all stepped up in specialty roles.

Breaux has been able to use eleven members of this year’s squad against top-flight competition, the only loss coming to top ranked Oklahoma in the four team Metroplex challenge held in Fort Worth last month. It bodes well for this team’s overall competency and preparedness in case of injury, but it also positions the younger gymnasts to continue their maturity and growth. The Texas facility will also be the site for the NCAA semi-finals and Super Six competition in mid-April.

It is difficult for any LSU gymnastics fan to think about not having Courville, Jordan, Hall, and Ranzy next year. However, Breaux has already signed four recruits for next season, including McKenna Kelley, daughter of 1984 all-around Gold Medalist Mary Lou Retton. Not that Breaux needs a stamp of approval on her program, but that commitment says all you need to know about the present state of LSU gymnastics.

Courville, Jordan, and Hall have each done special things in their time in Tigerland, and their goal of a national championship is attainable. They, and their mates, just need to grasp that ring. Tonight’s meet will go a long way in determining mindsets and inner confidence for future confrontations with Florida, a certainty as the teams work toward the national title.

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