LIVE BLOG: No. 15 Auburn at No. 3 LSU

It’s a Tiger faceoff this weekend as LSU welcomes Auburn into the PMAC. While LSU should win this handily, it’s Auburn who really needs a big score here, as a road score improvement could allow them to make a big move in the RQS picture. Auburn’s ideal score tonight will be a 196.775, which would guarantee moving up to No. 12 no matter what the teams ahead of or behind them do this weekend. It has a 194 road score it can drop, so replacing it with any kind of 196 would be a huge improvement for them. It’ll take great performances from team leaders Abby Milliet and Gracie Day to get there, along with strong supporting performances from the freshmen, like Drew Watson and Jada Glenn. The visiting Tigers will also hope for a fully healthy Samantha Cerio, who had an emergency appendectomy at the beginning of February. She returned to bars last week, but only for a 9.75, which isn’t anywhere close to what she’s capable of. If she’s back in full form, she’ll be a major asset to improving the scores for this Auburn team.

The LSU Tigers will still be looking for those big scores, but their ability to rise in the RQS standings is limited by the fact that they’ve just been so darn consistent with their scores already this season. Their ideal score this week will be a 197.625, as that will give them a chance to catch UCLA and ensure that Florida can’t catch them. That score is absolutely doable at home, especially since their last home meet brought them over the 198 mark, even while resting Sarah Finnegan and Myia Hambrick out of the all around. This week should be another relatively easy one for LSU, so we may see some gymnasts rested again, but from past experience, they’re more likely to rotate who they rest, so Finnegan and Hambrick will likely be back in the all around, while Kennedi Edney or Lexie Priessman might be rested instead. Regardless of the lineups though, the team will be looking to capitalize on the strength of its bars and beam rotations, while really working to find the right vibe on vault and floor. The strengths of this LSU team have switched up since last year, so since head coach D-D Breaux is still playing with her vault and floor lineups in preparation for postseason, it’s possible we might see some new faces pop up here and there.

3:30pm: Hey everyone! Let’s get ready for a great afternoon of gymnastics. LSU has officially clinched the regular season SEC championship (because apparently that’s a thing now) and is having their “championship gold” meet, asking everyone coming to the PMAC to wear gold to celebrate the win. First vault should be in just a few minutes!

3:35pm: Rotation 1! Here we go! LSU is promising five 10.0 start values in this lineup, according to Kathy Johnson Clarke on this broadcast.

Finnegan, VT: Big FTY, bounce back.

Watson, UB: First handstand lovely. Tkachev is nice. Bail solid. A little short on final handstand. Half in half out, little step back to steady herself. Good start for them! She’s been a little inconsistent so they’ll be glad to start off with a hit.

3:37pm: Cannamela, VT: throwing her Y1.5 for the first time ever! A little bit underrotated, crosses back to steady herself. Good for her!

Moss, UB: nice first handstands. Gienger is good, not super high but keeps the legs mostly clean. Bail a little loose. DLO with a small step forward.

3:39pm: Harrold, VT: Y1.5, overcooks it a little today but manages to only take one big step forward. One of her better ones this year.

Krippner, UB: almost arches over her first handstand but saves it! Bail is good, a little short on next handstand on the high bar. Tkachev doesn’t get a lot of air, and her last handstand is also short. Little step on the dismount.

3:41pm: Edwards, VT: Y1.5, a little crooked in the air and ends up sitting it. Looks really disappointed with herself on the sidelines, but she has some time to bounce back before floor.

Day, UB: First handstands look good, maybe one a little shy. Jaeger to overshoot, super dynamic. Arabian double front dismount, little step forward.

3:43pm: Hambrick, VT: Y1.5, a little off to one side, little hop forward.

3:44pm: Cerio, UB: Almost comes off mid-Weiler, splits her legs but saves it, doesn’t touch her feet either. Somehow pulls out a piked Jaeger out of that, bail is a little floppy but good. Double tuck dismount, little step.

Edney, VT: Y1.5, just gets so much height and distance. Almost stuck but ends up taking a small hop forward.

3:46pm: Milliet, UB: First handstands are solid. Ray not as high as she can usually go but good. Pak is gorgeous! Short on final handstand, giant full to double back, and fights for the stick! The only one this rotation.

After one, LSU leads Auburn 49.325 to 48.975. LSU will definitely want to improve those landings going into postseason, as will Auburn, but the latter definitely has bigger issues than just hops and bounces. Both Cerio and Krippner had big saves they had to make on handstands, and those should both be easily 9.85 scores on the regular (instead of 9.65 and 9.7), so they’ll want to fix that before worrying about the landings.

3:54pm: Rotation 2!

Becker, VT: FTY, good distance but not quite the height that LSU gets, little scoot back.

Durante, UB: Lovely first handstand, Jaeger is big but it kinda kills her momentum a little? Pak is nice. A little short on final handstand. Full in, bounce back, looked like she was twisting a little slow in the air.

3:56pm: Apparently one of the judges missed Becker? Sounds like at the end of the rotation she’ll get to go again. I wonder if she went before the flag or if one judge raised the flag before the other was ready.

Phillips, VT: HUGE height on her FTY, two steps back. Will want to improve that landing to really get the score she deserves.

3:58pm: Hambrick, UB: Gorgeous Ray as usual. Bail, really aggressive on that handstand. Half in half out, and she sticks! Finally, let’s see if LSU can capitalize on that and keep the sticks going.

3:59pm: Krippner, VT: FTY, good distance and looked stuck to me? Maybe a kind of step salute.

4:00pm: Harrold, UB: Immediate Zuchold and she overarches it… somehow saves it?? Slow mo shows she hit her feet on the bar stooping through. Jaeger is fine, little shuffle on the double front. Not the score she will want there.

Watson, VT: BIG Y1.5, large lunge forward but brings her foot back so should only get the deduction for one step instead of two.

4:01pm: Edney, UB: Hindorff is huge as usual, a little bend in her arms in some of her handstands here. Bail is good. Final handstand is nice. DLO perfectly straight and sticks it!

Apparently Auburn is waiting to see if they need Becker to go again, since apparently she has some bad feet of some kind? I’ll keep you posted when I hear more.

4:03pm: Day, VT: Big Y1.5, big step forward again. Looks like they changed up the mat setup for her? Wonder what that’s about.

Priessman, UB: Big Tkachev to pak, keeps her legs together nicely today. DLO really whippy and pikes it a little bit, ends up hopping forward.

4:04pm: Glenn, VT: Y1.5, a little cross step over but not very big.

Becker apparently going to vault again.

Finnegan, UB: Gorgeous first handstand. Ray looked a little crooked in the air but gets great air. Bail dead on as usual. Toe shoot kills her momentum a little but muscles through it. Gorgeous DLO, drops it right in for the stick.

Becker, VT: going again because one of the judges’ view was obscured, so shouldn’t be a deduction for her I don’t think. FTY, similar dynamics to the first but much better landing, just a little bounce in place.

After two, LSU has an enormous lead with a 98.875 to Auburn’s 98.15. Hambrick will take the vault title with a 9.9, while Edney will take bars with a career-high 9.975.

And our lineups for the next rotation, apparently only Auburn is posting this rotation’s lineup:

4:14pm: Time for rotation three!

Macadaeg, BB: I hope D-D gives her a chance to go later in the lineup for senior night… Switch to switch half to beat is gorgeous. Front aerial, lovely. Bhs loso, straight on. Gainer full, stick! So calm and collected, love that routine.

4:16pm: Smith, FX: Double pike to open, solid. 1.5 twist to front lay to shush, that’s fun. Double tuck to close, and a little dive roll at the end, she’s got a little personality on her! I foresee her being a little firecracker on the floor in the future.

4:18pm: Hambrick, BB: L turn, perfectly balanced. Hitchkick to side aerial, dead on. Bhs loso, ooooh big balance check but saves it without too much swimming. Roundoff double full, stick with a salute step.

4:20pm: Glenn, FX: Double pike to open, great power. A little shy of her split position in her dance elements there. 1.5 twist to front lay, missed her punch and sits it, yikes. Would love to see bigger dancing from her, I feel like she’s dancing really small. Double tuck to close, good. Oh this is the Lion King remix! Gets a little Lion King sound there at the end, that’s fun.

4:22pm: Edney, BB: Bhs loso, steady. Switch leap to straddle quarter, good positions in the air. Piked front toss, lands basically standing straight up, love that. And stick her 1.5 dismount COLD! Very nice, finally getting some build going in these LSU routines.

4:24pm: Watson, FX: Opens with a double pike, really nice form in the air, good control on the landing. Choreo in the middle here is fun but again I feel like the dance is a little small. Double tuck for the second pass, nice height there. 1.5 twist to front lay like Glenn, but lands it just fine. A solid score for her.

4:26pm: Desiderio, BB: Front aerial to sissone, excellent. Bhs loso, super patient with that and keeps perfectly steady. Switch to switch half to beat, much better split positions than weeks past but still maybe not perfect on that front leg on the half. Gainer layout full, stick! Another solid routine for her.

4:27pm: Slappey, FX: Front lay to Rudi to open, nice! A little short maybe in one of those split positions in the corner. Double pike, lots of power, almost picks up her front foot when she lunges back. Double tuck to close. Another good one, but as far as the performance quality, these routines just pale in comparison to what LSU is about to do.

4:29pm: Campbell, BB: LOVE that press mount. I know I say that every week but I’m obsessed. Front aerial to bhs, maybe a little hesitation but I doubt they’ll take that away from her. Back tuck to split jump, good. Switch leap to switch half, maybe a little shy on the second split position. Roundoff double full dismount, a little close to the beam, little crossed in the legs and a shuffle backward.

4:31pm: Day, FX: Double arabian to open, gorgeous, and solid control on the landings. This choreo is so dramatic, and she’s hitting every beat in her music, love this. Front full to front lay to stag, nice. Double tuck to finish, and what a cool ending! Almost like… a cat leap full straight to the ground? Lots of fun and easily the best performance Auburn has put out yet.

4:33pm: Finnegan, BB: Single wolf, solid. Bhs loso, bobble but keeps it small. Switch to switch half, lovely. Side somi, much better body position on that than usual. Side aerial to back full, stuck!

4:34pm: Milliet, FX: Lovely showcase of her flexibility in that opening choreo. Front layout to Rudi to open, good control. Something funky on her second dance element, maybe didn’t turn like it was supposed to? Double pike for second pass, lost control of the landing but somehow kept it in bounds, very low chest too. 1.5 twist to front layout to close. Not her best, but kept it from being disastrous.

LSU ties a season-high beam team score at 49.525, with Desiderio earning a new career-high of 9.925 and Edney a new season-high with the same score.

Erin Macadaeg leads beam with her 9.95, while Auburn’s Gracie Day leads floor with a 9.875.

LSU leads Auburn by more than a point now, 148.4 to 147.275.

Looks like they’re tearing up the floor right now for some reason? Fixing a metal clip that had popped up, apparently. That’s not scary at all.

4:44pm: Time for the last rotation!

Riddle, BB: Bhs loso, little wobble there. Switch to split half, maybe a little shy of split on the half there. Cat leap to side aerial to back tuck full, nice!

4:45pm: Kirby, FX: Dance elements right off the bat, solid positions there. Front lay to Rudi to open, nice. Double tuck for second pass, chest a little low maybe. Front full to front lay, good finish.

4:47pm: Cerio, BB: Ooh, she does a press mount too! Lovely. Cat leap to switch side, nice. Bhs loso, big bobble with a leg up but stays on. Front full dismount off the end, very nice. Good to see her back on beam following that appendectomy a few weeks ago.

4:49pm: Desiderio, FX: DLO to open, gorgeous! Very patient with her music there, hits every beat perfectly with her choreography. Front tuck through to double tuck, nicely done. Dance elements are nice, great oversplit on the switch ring in slow mo, and well controlled. Double pike to close it out. Should be a great score for her!

4:51pm: Sylvia, BB: Side aerial, big lean that she tries to turn into choreography. Front aerial to bhs, faster connection that many. Split to sheep, decently short of split there but sheep was nice! Cartwheel to gainer full, looked like a stick to me?

4:52pm: Cannamela, FX: Wow, somebody worked on her dance the last two weeks! Looking much sharper on her beats than I’m used to seeing her. Double pike to open, good. 1.5 to front lay, layout REALLY low but somehow stands it up without much struggle. Good positions on her dance elements. Double tuck, good control popping into the lunge. Another hit for LSU.

4:54pm: Slappey, BB: Bhs loso, balance break and comes off. Switch half once she’s back on, maybe a little shy of split there. Switch leap to split jump, better splits there. Cat leap to side aerial to back full, maybe a little shuffle there at the end.

4:55pm: Edney, FX: One of her better double arabians here to open! Very nice. 1.5 twist to front lay, much better than Cannamela’s. Double tuck to close, WOW! Two foot stick, absolutely textbook.

4:58pm: Milliet, BB: Bhs loso and she’s off too, yikes. They were so close. Hops right back up, lovely back walkover down to the beam. Split to sheep jump, good positions in the air. Gainer layout, little shuffle. That’s a shame.

4:59pm: Finnegan, FX: 1.5 twist through to 2.5 twist, love that unique pass from her. Double tuck, super floaty on the landing. I think LSU has really focused on their choreography this week in practice or something, they all look sharper in their musicality this week and I love it. Double pike to close, lovely control there as well. Should be another huge score there. Yup, there’s the perfect 10.0!! How funny that she gets her first perfect 10.0 on floor, not considered one of her strongest events. Good for her!

5:03pm: Krippner, BB: Front aerial to beat, good.  Good split positions there. Bhs loso, little balance check but twists to the side and covers with choreo. Roundoff 1.5 twist, step salute. Good job closing it out after two falls there.

5:04pm: Hambrick, FX: PERFECT stick on that DLO, though I do see that pike down everyone has been buzzing about. 2.5 twist to punch front, maybe a little crossover step there? Covers well with choreo if so. Double pike, great control there too. That’s another 10.0 for the LSU Tigers! Finney more deserving in my mind but these last three routines were just absolutely lights OUT.

Trophy presentation now for the SEC regular season championship. Final stats in just a moment.

LSU wins with yet another 198, a 198.1, giving them three total 198+ scores and moving them into the No. 2 spot in this week’s RQS rankings, just behind Oklahoma and passing UCLA.

Auburn earns a final score of 195.625, which will allow them to drop that pesky 194 in their RQS, but won’t give them the big boost they were hoping for.

Auburn will definitely stay ahead of Missouri, though staying ahead of Cal or Georgia is still uncertain until Road to Nationals crunches the math. And it won’t be able to pass anyone that was already ahead.

Thanks for tuning in! Check out our SUU at DU liveblog tomorrow, among others, as well as our Dismount recap of the whole weekend, coming to you on Tuesday.

Live blog by Caroline Medley

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