The LSU’s gymnastics team lost to the Missouri Tigers 197.225-197.325 on Friday night in Columbia.
The meet came down to the final gymnast, as both teams put up a fight until the end. Ultimately, Missouri’s home crowd mixed with its near-perfect first half performance gave it a slight edge over the LSU Tigers.
LSU was coming off of a win over No. 6 Kentucky where it scored 198.125. So far in the 2024 season, it was the Tigers’ highest score, and the second highest score in the nation. They moved up to No. 3 in the national polls, compared to Missouri at No. 9.
“Last Friday was a good confidence booster and our intention is to be the same team as we turn the page and move onto the next meet,” head coach Jay Clark said after his team’s win against Kentucky. “Missouri is a good team and we’re excited to get in their environment.”
LSU began its meet on uneven bars, where it scored a 49.400.
At the same time, Missouri was competing on the vault where it dominated the rotation. The Missouri Tigers snagged a lead at the end of the first rotation, 49.425-49.400.
Once LSU switched over to vault, all eyes were on Haleigh Bryant, where Tiger fans were hoping for her fourth perfect 10 in a row against the Missouri Tigers.
KJ Johnson led off for the Tigers, scoring a solid 9.875. Savannah Schoenherr followed with a 9.900 then Aleah Finnegan scored a 9.800. Kiya Johnson finished with a 9.850, and Bryant ended her perfect vault streak against the Columbia team with a 9.900.
LSU failed to stick a single landing on vault which shined an even brighter light on Missouri’s near-perfect uneven bar routines. After the second rotation, Missouri had a 50% stick rate, sticking six of their 12 routines.
“You can’t score on vault if you don’t land them,” Clark said mid-meet. “If you don’t go hard, you can’t be successful in a place like this.”
After the second rotation, Missouri held onto a 98.825-98.725 lead, and it headed to the next event confidently.
LSU answered Clark’s call-out, though, on arguably its best rotation, floor. In its first conference road competition of the year, LSU proved once again why its floor squad deserves to be ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Sierra Ballard remained in the leadoff spot, scoring a 9.775, followed by Konnor McClain with a 9.875.
LSU’s floor routine continued to dominate, as the Tigers worked their way up to a tie with Missouri, each with 118.375 points.
Despite taking a step out of bounds, KJ Johnson’s difficult floor routine left her with a score of 9.725. Finnegan followed with another fall, scoring a 9.350, which was ultimately dropped.
Freshman Amari Drayton scored a 9.875, and Kiya Johnson anchored with a 9.900.
LSU surged into the lead, scoring a 49.150 on the floor, while Missouri trailed with 48.900 on beam.
LSU led 147.875-147.725 going into the final rotation.
Ballard led off, once again, on balance beam, trying to follow up her previous 9.900 against Kentucky. Missing by .5, Ballard scored a 9.850.
LSU began to pick up the pace once Konnor McClain scored a perfect 10 on the balance beam. Kiya Johnson followed with a solid routine, sticking her double full dismount. She scored a 9.900. Bryant finished off her night with a stick, scoring a 9.850.
After Missouri’s freshman Kennedy Griffin scored a 9.975, the meet came down to both teams’ anchors.
The two Tiger teams were tied at 197.225.
LSU needed a 9.975 to take the win. However, Finnegan was unable to answer. After she fell on her first skill, the meet was Missouri’s to keep.
Missouri needed a 9.850 to take the win, and Jocelyn Moore answered with even more. Moore scored a 9.925, giving the hometown team the win.
Missouri gained its first home conference win of the season 197.325-197.225.
Despite LSU’s best efforts in the second half rotations, its weak start and minor accidents allowed Missouri to trudge ahead into victory.
LSU’s ranking will likely fall going into week five of the season, but with another home meet ahead, the Tigers will undoubtedly find their way back to victory.