LIVE BLOG: No. 1 LSU at No. 7 Florida

In one of the most anticipated matchups of the weekend, LSU and Florida will preview what is likely to be the battle for the SEC Championship this year. Tonight’s meet will set the tone for intra-conference competition for the season, showing off the strongest performances and potentially revealing where they might lose ground to their opponents. Florida had a rough time against WVU last week, winning despite counting mistakes. The Gators will see the return of Kennedy Baker to the all around after she sat out of three events because of a cramp mid-bar routine. Expect strong performances out of Alex McMurtry and Alicia Boren as well, though McMurtry will stick to her first three events until later in the season.

The home setting will definitely favor the Gators, but don’t expect the Tigers to go down without a fight. LSU earned the first 197 of the season last week against Arkansas, though its vault rotation was not the way it would have wanted to kick off 2018. Watch for Myia Hambrick—she sat her Y1.5 on vault last week but bounced back for a great AA performance. Sarah Finnegan is another to keep an eye on with her stellar bars and beam and winning the all around with the highest score in the nation.

We’ll be here in person all night getting you the latest on this SEC showdown, including warmups on our Instagram story @ncaagymnews, as well as interviews after the conclusion of the competition.

6:18pm: Hey everybody, we’re here at the O-Dome in Gainesville as warmups are concluding in just a few minutes. Sorry if I worried anyone on Instagram, Sarah Finnegan and Kennedi Edney definitely warmed up floor, they just weren’t in the initial set of tumbling runs I saw. Megan Skaggs has also warmed up on all events, for those wondering.

6:49pm: Intros are starting here in Gainesville! We’ll be underway shortly, I’d imagine.

6:59pm: Warmups are almost finished for the first rotation. Here’s a screencap of the lineups for tonight courtesy of our Instagram story!

7:02pm: Alexander, VT: Solid full, little hop on the landing.

Durante, UB: A little close on Jaeger but covers well. Pak is good, as is following handstand. Stuck full in dismount, drops it right in.

7:03pm: Foberg, VT: Another full, big bounce back.

Hambrick, UB: Big Ray, lovely toe point. Dead on on the bail. Dismount is dropped right in again, very nice!

7:05pm: Boren, VT: 1.5, little hop forward. Big cheer from the crowd!

Kirby, UB: short on opening handstand. Tkachev is good, overarches on her bail and comes off. Sticks DLO dismount though.

7:07pm: Baker, VT: 1.5, big bounce forward. Not the landings they want tonight, especially considering LSU’s sticks in the early routines.

Big wait before Edney’s routine, discussing Kirby’s score.

7:09pm: Edney, UB: Hindorff, not as much amplitude as she usually gets. Bail is straight on. DLO is stuck! Very nice come back.

Slocum, VT: she runs off to the side on her first attempt?? but she doesn’t touch the springboard or horse, so she should be allowed another attempt.

Priessman, UB: Lexie is going ahead and going I guess? Nice and high on her Tkachev, pak is a little whippy but fine. Bounce back on her dismount. Crowd looks confused.

Slocum, VT again. Handspring onto the table and bails out, tucks it and sits it. Wonder what’s going on there? This is so unusual for her.

McMurtry, VT: HUGE noise from the crowd before Alex goes. Let’s see if she can keep that weird miss from Slocum out of her mind. Just her full tonight, I don’t blame her after that. Little hop in place on the landing, but huge gorgeous flare as usual.

Finnegan, UB: gorgeous Ray as usual, straight on with her bail, into her toe shoot, good. DLO, looked like a little scoot back but Jay was in my way. They’ll get to drop Kirby’s score for that.

Waiting on final scores from Slocum and Finnegan, but looks like it’s going to be a tight race here regardless.

Florida leads LSU barely, 49.2 to 49.15. Slocum receives a 4.35, I’ll have to ask about that one to see exactly where that comes from. Finnegan also ended up with a 9.775, which I didn’t see from my perspective, but I do have a crowd of people between me and the bars…

Rotation 2 time!

7:22pm: Macadaeg, VT: Big FTY, nice and flared, bounce back.

Boren, UB: great first handstand, a little conservative on her Tkachev but catches fine. Bail is sharp, short on last handstand. DLO dismount is super close to the bar, but STICKS the heck out of that dismount!

7:24pm: Hambrick, VT: Y1.5 and stands it up!! Step forward on the landing, but nowhere near as big as warmups, where she was overcooking them a little.

Gowey, UB: Great first handstand, gorgeous on her release. Pak is nice, not as floaty as maybe we’re used to. DLO dismount and sticks that one too! The Gators are getting in on the stick action now.

7:26pm: Priessman, VT: just the full again tonight, but looked like a stick from here! Not as much distance as she’s capable of, but great height.

Skaggs, UB: Good to see her in this lineup! Good first handstand, HUGE air on her release and just can’t get her grips around the bar, crashes to her knees. She looked nervous in warmups, I was afraid of this. Gets back up, reattempts and cataches it! Straight to pak, nicely done. A little short on last handstand. DLO dismount, looked like a little step forward? Lots of Florida assistants and such in front of me, but replay screen shows a little hop in place.

7:28pm: Edwards, VT: Y1.5, teeny hop in place. She is showing big promise for LSU, especially as a walk-on! Maybe the next Sydney Ewing?

Baker, UB: A little conservative on her Ray but understandably so. A little short on bail. Good last handstand. Blind change into double front dismount, looked like a little hop in place.

7:30pm: Finnegan, VT: HUGE air on her FTY, like a dart sticks into the mat.

Hundley, UB: a little short first handstand, soars on her Maloney, good air on the pak too! a little leg sep on the Van Leeuwen but I’m not mad at it. Cleaner than last season. Pings her full in a little far out, but a little step back on the dismount.

7:32pm: Edney, VT: A little short on her Y1.5, has to take a staggered step back to stay on her feet.

McMurtry, UB: lovely first handstand, goes for the big air on her Ray and catches fine. Bail is pretty straight, final handstand is… not. Floaty full in dismount and sticks it!

After two rotations, Edwards and Hambrick tie for the vault title with McMurtry with 9.9s. Bars goes to McMurtry as well with a 9.925.

LSU pulls ahead of Florida! 98.5 to the Gators’ 98.325. It is getting heated in here, y’all. You can see the intensity on everyone’s faces.

7:40pm: Rotation 3 time!

Baker, BB: Tiny Dancer beam music, I’m in love! Double wolf, big cheer from the crowd. Front aerial to bhs, I guess she’s taking the risk with that series this year. Straddle to split half, a little shy of 180. Side aerial to bhs, little hop on the landing maybe?

7:42pm: Kirby, FX: Front lay to Rudi to open, good. She’s learning to perform this routine a little more, I like it! Chest a little low on the double tuck, but good control on the landing. Good splits in her dance elements. Front lay to front full for her final pass, good. Should be a solid score.

7:44pm: Foberg, BB: Thinking Out Loud for her beam music, me gusta. Single wolf to open. Bhs loso series, perfectly steady. Switch leap, stumbles. Sheep jump to beat, adds that at the end to make sure she gets her series. Side aerial to back full, maybe a little bounce in place on the landing.

7:46pm Harrold, FX: Front double full to open, FNH camera guy is RIGHT in my way so I didn’t see the landing. Double tuck for her second pass, good. She’s smiling so much this week, performing this so well for an away meet. 1.5 twist to front lay to finish, clearly just has so much energy and love for this routine.

7:48pm: Boren, BB: sticking with the Ed Sheeran theme, his new song Perfect (the duet version with Beyonce!!) will be her beam music. Long wait for her to go, though. Here she goes. Gainer front toss, clearly a crowd pleaser as I hear gasps around me. Bhs loso, secure. Switch leap to straddle jump, good. Not the best split I’ve seen her do but fine. Cat leap to gainer loso, little wobble there. Cartwheel to gainer full, stuck.

7:51pm: Edwards, FX: Front double full to open, I love this so much! Double tuck for her second pass, same as Harrold. Nice splits on her dance elements. Into the Annie segment of her routine, so much energy here. Front full to front lay and she sits it, yikes. Teammates giving her lots of hugs.

7:52pm: Gowey, BB: switch leap to split jump, lovely. Super secure on triple series, snaps her arms down like “yes I got this!” Front aerial to sissone, good. Cry Me a River for her beam music, I’m obsessed. Gainer full off the side, stuck. Big routine for her!

7:54pm: Edney, FX: Love this 90s routine on her. Double arabian isn’t as high as I’m used to seeing her do, but just takes a step back. 1.5 twist to front lay for the second pass, good. Teammates helping her bring the energy through her dance section. High double back to finish up. Fake out ending into a dab, love it. Good come back for them.

7:56pm: Baumann, BB: Daughters by John Mayer for her beam  music? Okay, I can get down with this. Does Onodi by itself, then bhs to loso separately, but still in love with the fact the she does an Onodi at all. Switch to switch half is secure, if a little short on the half. Front aerial to split jump, super confident. She is such a beam queen, I love it. Roundoff 1.5 twist dismount, and I think she stuck? Nope, replay cam shows tiny step back.

7:58pm: Finnegan, FX: Love that she brings the drama in this routine. 1.5 through to 2.5, step forward but keeps it controlled. High double tuck for second pass. Punch front in the middle here to fulfill her front tumbling I guess? Double pike to finish, good on the landing. There’s a small LSU contingent, maybe another sports team, in the crowd up top and I think their cheering is actually helping? The phenomenon of the crowd, y’all.

8:00pm: McMurtry, FX: Cat leap to front toss, clean. Bhs loso is actually floaty, really nice and secure. Switch to Shush to back hip circle, always a big hit here in the arena. Roundoff double full dismount, little foot slide to the side. This is going to stay close through the very last routine, I think.

8:01pm: Hambrick, FX: DLO to open, super controlled on the landing though maybe a little piked on her second rotation. 2.5 to punch front for her second pass, looked stuck to me. A little crooked on her wolf 1/1? Covers well though. Double pike to finish, that’ll be another big score!

Florida’s 147.6 trails to LSU’ s 147.85, it is going to be a CLOSE one, y’all!

I’ve been informed that the SECN commentators said “McKenna is here in spirit and energy” – no she’s literally here! And off her scooter too, in a walking boot, so hopefully that means her recovery is going well.

8:10pm: Rotation 4 time!

Macadaeg, BB: Switch to switch half to beat is secure, good. I’m hoping she can get last week’s mistake out of her head. Front aerial, good. Bhs loso, perfectly dead on. Gainer full off to the side, stuck! A great lead off for LSU as usual.

Baumann, FX: Big open double tuck to start, not ready for the DLO upgrade I saw in warmups I guess. 1.5 twist to front full second pass, good control. She’s still learning her musicality with this routine it seems, either that or she’s just nervous. Lovely split positions in her jumps. Double pike to finish, HUGE cheer from the crowd when she lands. Great home debut for her tonight!

8:14pm: Hambrick, BB: L turn good. Hitchkick to side aerial, a little crooked but doesn’t bobble. Jumps are secure. Bhs loso is dead on, and into her lovely needle scale. Roundoff double full dismount is STUCK. That’ll be another big score for them.

8:16pm: Foberg, FX: Full in to open! Go Jazzy! She is performing the heck out of this one tonight. Front full front pike fro her second pass, good control. Starting to maybe some nerves in her performance, now smiling as much, but she’s got good foundations. Double tuck to close, great control on that lunge. These teams are going back and forth guys, it’s so close.

8:18pm: Edney, BB: opening front aerial to sissone, looked a little unsure but didn’t show it in her body. Bhs loso solid. Switch leap to straddle 1/4, secure. Front toss, dead on. Round off 1.5 twist, big step forward on the landing.

8:19pm: Slocum, FX: DLO to open! Couldn’t see the landing from here but apparently it was crunchy? Still great to see her put it to her feet after she balked vault. Good positions on her dance elements, better split than I feel like I usually see from her too. Here comes Mambo #5, haha. Front full front pike for her second pass, of course the camera guys are standing in my way for this entire segment. Rudi to finish, good control on the landing. Big cheers from the crowd, you can tell they’re really invested in this fight too.

8:22pm: Desiderio, BB: Front aerial to sissone, good. Bhs loso, stays patient. Switch to switch half to beat, a little short on the half. Gainer full off the side, maybe a small step on the landing?

8:23pm: Boren, FX: big DLO to start it off, clearly loving this MIssy Elliott routine in the arena here. 1.5 twist to front lay second pass. Doing the Jump On It lasso with her team, fun. High controlled double tuck to finish. Big lead up to the Gator chomp at the end and the arena is going NUTS in here! People are chanting for 10s

8:26pm: Campbell, LSU: looove this press handstand mount from her. Front aerial to bhs, almost went off the front end of the beam on the aerial but saved it. Back tuck to split jump, solid. Switch a little funky, to switch half to beat. Roundoff double full stuck! LSU is in the zone, y’all, they can taste the win.

8:27pm: Baker, FX: I’ve ben dying to see this routine since I saw it on Insta back in like October. Stuck the crap out of her piked double arabian! I’m so glad she gets to debut this in front of her home crowd. Double back second pass, nice and controlled lunge. Good split positions on her dance elements. 1.5 twist to front half to straddle jump, almost didn’t have the momentum to rebound it but pulled it off. No 10 chants for that one? I’m shocked, haha.

8:30pm: Finnegan, BB: Alright, moment of truth. Single wolf, good. Bhs loso, looked a little unsure but didn’t bobble. Switch to switch half, lovely. Side somi, secure. Side aerial to back full, maybe stuck? Hard to tell from here.

8:31pm: Skaggs, FX: 1.5 through to double tuck, interesting combo but I like it. 1.5 to front lay, good. wolf turn? Okay, that’s not typical Florida style but I don’t hate it. Double pike to close, a little crunchy but stands it up fine. Gator chomp and the crowd again erupts.

Well folks, we have 197.2 for LSU, 197.125 for Florida! LSU just barely ekes out the win over the Gators tonight. I’ll have some interview highlights in a little while, hopefully getting both LSU and Florida interviews if all works out!

Live blog by Caroline Medley


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