LSU Looking To Continue Improvement And Capture Gym Title

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Four All-American Gymnasts Lead Tigers To Nationals

By John Ventola

Paced by three senior first-team All-American gymnasts, LSU will go into tonight’s national women’s gymnastics semifinals trying to improve on the program’s best finish ever, last season’s third place finish in the NCAA Super Six. The Fort Worth Convention Center Arena will host twelve teams in two six-team semifinals, the three top teams in each session advancing to Saturday’s championship competition. Four other Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams will join the Tigers in a quest for another national title for a league squad.

The national championship competition, instituted in 1982, has been won by only six

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Only Six Schools Have Won Gymnastics National Titles

schools (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Utah) during its thirty-three years. All six of the previous champions will be in Fort Worth for semifinal performances. Oklahoma and Florida tied for the crown last season, the first tie in championship history.

Fourth ranked LSU, in its 26th championship competition, will attempt to qualify for its third straight, and fifth overall, Super Six finals by finishing in session two’s top three teams. Competitors will be No. 1 ranked Oklahoma, No. 5 Alabama, No. 8 Auburn, No. 9 Nebraska, and No. 12 Oregon State. The Tigers, 24-2, were defeated by Oklahoma in an early season meet in Fort Worth, and edged by Alabama at the SEC championship by .075 of a point. The Tigers defeated Bama in a head-to-head meet in Tuscaloosa.

Session one participants include No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Utah, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 UCLA, No. 10 on Georgia, and No. 11 Stanford. The Gators will be going for a three peat, winning in 2013, and being co-champion with Oklahoma last year. Florida suffered falls on beam at the SEC Championships and finished a disappointing third behind Alabama and LSU.

The top three in each of Friday’s semifinal sessions will advance to the NCAA Super Six on Saturday night. Additionally, the top four competitors in each event Friday advance to the NCAA Individual Event finals Sunday. Friday’s semifinal results will determine the all-around individual champion.

Rheagan Courville, a senior from University High, was named a first team All-American on vault, bars, and all-around. Courville is third in the nation on vault, third on bars, and fourth in all-around. Houston native Jessie Jordan also earned first team All-American

LSU

Courville, Jordan, Hall, Gnat Garner All-American Honors

honors on beam and all-around. Jordan is third in the nation on beam, and fifth in all-around. Electrifying Llomencia Hall continued to amaze fans and scorers with her rare combination of power and grace on floor exercise. Hall, from Dallas, ranked as the best in the nation on floor, and, of course, was first team All-American in the event.

Sophomore Ashleigh Gnat was announced as a second team All-American on floor and all-around. Gnat, from Lake Mary, Florida, finished tenth in the nation on floor, and thirteenth in all-around.

Senior Britney Ranzy, juniors Jessica Savona and Randi Wyrick, sophomores Sydney Ewing and Shae Zamardi, and freshmen Myia Hambrick and Erin Macadaeg, all contributed to the outstanding season posted by the Tigers, performing well in their specialties. The overall efficiency of the eleven gymnasts allowed Coach D-D Breaux, now in her 38th year leading the program, to rest Jordan and Courville at times without losing competitiveness.

The Tigers, after easily winning the Ames, Iowa regional, enter the semifinals nationally ranked No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on vault, No. 4 on beam, and No. 5 on bars. Only Oklahoma’s rotation seems better set, No. 1 on beam, No. 2 on floor, No. 3 on bars, and #4 on vault. Alabama and Florida seem primed, as usual, and Utah has returned to its prominence in women’s gymnastics. The Utes won the first five national championships (1982-86) under the current format.

LSU defeated Georgia and Florida impressively at home before record setting crowds,

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Tigers Had Impressive 24-2 Record Against Top Competition

and won at Alabama and Auburn. The tough competition that SEC teams present bodes well for efficient performance on this national stage. Much like the league’s football domination (National Champions, 206-2012), the SEC has also been a gymnastic measuring stick. Georgia (2005-2009), Florida (2013, 2014) and Alabama (2011 and 2012) have won or shared the championship ever year but one since 2005—UCLA’s win in 2010. The SEC has won 18 of the 33 titles.

Fifth place two years ago and third place last year, this season’s veteran LSU squad is hoping for another two spot improvement, and a chance at capturing that elusive gymnastics national championship.

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