LIVE BLOG: No. 8 California at No. 4 LSU

The 2019 NCAA gymnastics season is finally upon us, and it’s about to kick off with a bang. Two powerhouse conferences offer some of their best tonight as the California Golden Bears head to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers.

As it has for the past few years, LSU is coming into the season in national title contention, though it needs to fill some key routines from last season to do so. Tonight will mark the official return of McKenna Kelley, whose routines will be very welcome with the graduation of  Myia Hambrick. We’ll also get a first look at newly minted freshman Bailey Ferrer, who’ll also be expected to fill important lineup gaps.

As for Cal, we’ll be watching to see how its freshman class—full of ninja level 10s as per usual—contributes to lineups tonight. Always on the rise, Cal has the potential for an excellent season, one that could start out with a win tonight in the right circumstances. But the always boisterous crowds of the PMAC will give LSU a home advantage that’s unmatched almost anywhere in the NCAA.

In terms of injury updates, expect Cal fifth-year Toni-Ann Williams to make only minimal contributions as she recuperates from a preseason elbow injury. LSU junior Ashlyn Kirby has also dealt with elbow issues and is questionable to compete tonight, as is sophomore Olivia Gunter, who tore her Achilles last season.

8:10pm: Welcome, everyone! While we wait for the broadcast to start, take a look at Cal’s tentative lineups. LSU’s to follow when we get them.

Looks like all the Cal freshmen but Grace Quinn are poised to see lineup time, and on at least two events each!

8:22pm: So, update- while intros are going on right now in the PMAC, the SEC stream itself doesn’t start until meet time at 8:30. 7 minutes, people!

Would it be the PMAC without slightly terrifying bursts of fire to kick off the meet? Oh, LSU, you’re one of a kind.

8:30pm: Looks like DD was just introduced for LSU. She’s been coaching there for 42 years as of this season!


Lyn Rollins and Lori Strong Ballard back commentating after Gym 101.

LSU leo alert:

Rotation 1: LSU VT / CAL UB

Here’s LSU’s vault lineup. Looks like no routine from Bailey Ferrer just yet.

8:37 pm: If anyone knows this bluegrass song playing in the arena, please comment…just curious!

8:38 pm: Let’s get to some routines!

Cannamela VT: Full, piked down a bit but solid landing! 9.85.

So. Seilnacht UB: Piked jaeger to bail just about perfect, and a great and unique dismount! 9.775.

Harrold VT: Goes for the 1.5 and sits it. Too bad. 9.25.

George UB: Handstands a little short but sticks the dismount! 9.750.

Priessman VT: Yfull and sticks it- here comes the crown. It’s still a thing, y’all! 9.900.

Jones UB: Pak caught a little close but she gets it. Love her swing. 9.750.

Edwards VT: Just like Harrold, sits her 1.5. 9.350.

Kuc UB: More stunning lines. Cal scores coming in a little slower, so hold tight. 9.850.

Finnegan VT: Yfull, just about stuck! 9.875.

Schank UB: Another great piked jaeger to bail. Just about sticks the DLO. 9.875.

Edney VT: Finally a hit Y1.5 with a small step! Expecting great anchoring from her this season once again. 9.85.

Watterson UB: Missed the beginning but nice double tuck dismount. 9.875

Correction: That was Kyana George in the no. 2 spot for Cal, not Bordas. I definitely was confused at first but figured I’ve been wrong before…

8:52 pm: Anyway. Cal will be happy with that bars rotation, but it’ll expect those early-lineup scores to go up as the season progresses. LSU, having counted a fall, will also look at this week as showing room for improvement on an event they typically nail.

8:55 pm: So officially, after Rotation 1: Cal 49.125 / LSU 48.825

Lyn discussing the increased attendance at LSU as “the blossoming of a beautiful gymnastics flower.” We love some good imagery.

Rotation 2: LSU UB / CAL VT

8:58 pm: Bridget Dean making her debut in the lineup tonight!

George VT: Great Yfull, nice and open. 9.800.

Durante UB: So much height on the Jaeger and an overall great routine. 9.850.

Sy. Seilnacht VT: Not the highest Yfull but a solid landing. Nice!

Dean UB: Catches the Tkatchev a little close. Sticks DLO dismount. 9.750.

Solari VT: first 10.0 start for Cal, handspring pike half! Cool and unique!

Harrold UB: that transition never ceases to impress, but I can’t think of the name at the moment…the commentators can’t either, calling it a “jumble of letters.” Same. Great routine to make up for the vault miss!

Clausi VT: Lovely Y1.5!

My stream had a moment so I missed these next few routines 🙁 apologies, I’m trying to track down the scores for y’all.

Edney UB: 9.90.

Williams VT:  9.80.

Priessman UB: 9.775.

Mastrangelo VT: 9.825.

Finnegan UB: Tkatchev a bit close. Great toe shoot. Interesting pike shape on the DLO but it’s a stick. 9.90.

9:11 pm: After Rotation 2: Cal 98.175 / LSU 98.175.

Rotation 3: LSU BB / Cal FX

It’s a tie! Now things are getting fun.

Side note: anyone else love Ashleigh Clare-Kearney’s dress tonight?
Desiderio BB: Clearly very confident and a great dismount. The commentators are discussing the new hesitation rule, so it’ll be interested to see how that’s applied tonight. 9.825.
So. Seilnacht FX: 1.5 to layout half, nice. Love her twisting form, and the illusion turn in the middle. Good leadoff. 9.675.
Dean BB: Little off on the series. Just about sticks the dismount. Good first routine for her! 9.775.
Shu FX: Love this music! Front 1.5 dismount to punch front tuck, she saved that one! 9.600.
Durante BB: lovely lines and leaps. Great dismount. 9.85.
George FX: Can’t wait for this! Front tuck + FHS + layout half first pass, don’t see that too often! So is the front double full to LOSO. 9.800.
Edney BB: Spot on with the series. Piked front toss a bit off. That dismount is so easy for her and she sticks it- great! 9.825.
Clausi FX: Another exciting routine debuting tonight. Classical guitar music perfect for her! Fantastic full-in to start the performance. And another great front double full. She’ll be a star on the event for sure. 9.825.
Campbell BB: Aerial to sissone, solid. Very flexible on the leaps and another stuck landing. 9.875.
Williams FX: Didn’t expect to see her here tonight, but I’ll take it. First passes are a double layout and a front-layout full, both stuck! She’s like, what injury? And a double pike to close out the routine. This fifth year might just be her best. 9.850.
Finnegan BB: Side somi a tinyyyy bit off. The rest was lovely and a stuck dismount. A decidedly Finnegan-esque routine to start her season. 9.95.
Solari FX: Double pike, a little off. Not playing too high with the difficulty but it’s a solid routine to close out the lineup. 9.800.

9:39 pm: After Rotation 3: Cal 147.125 / LSU 147.5.

I’d call that LSU’s best rotation of the night, but this margin is a lot tighter than they’d like. Cal gave it a good effort with floor, but they won’t want to be counting routines in the 9.6’s for much longer. Let’s see which team will close it out.

Rotation 4: LSU FX / Cal BB

According to commentators, this is the most “family-friendly activity in Baton Rouge on a Friday night.” Not sure what other “activities” they’re thinking of but…
Shu BB: Her and Edney both have “Someone Like You” by Adele as their beam song! Is that cute or awkward? Anyway…didn’t see the beginning but she sticks the dismount. 9.7250.
Harrold FX: Front double full a little staggered. Same with the double pike. This is cool music, though. Last pass was her best! 9.850.
Clausi BB: Clear from the start how confident she is. Great switch leap series. Very nice acro series as well. 9.7250.
Don’t know why it took me this long to realize how much the other female commentator sounds like Shannon Miller. Anyone else?
Desiderio FX: Double layout great! Front tuck to double tuck to her knees :/ And double pike with the chest down. 9.250.
Keelen BB: Legs a bit weird on the series but it’s on. Nice position on the ring. 1.5 twist dismount, wasn’t sure if she’d get it but she stays up! 9.750.
Edwards FX: Been a while since I’ve heard whistling in a routine. Front double full great. Okay this music…there is so much going on here. 9.850.
So. Seilnacht BB: Such beautiful extension and a great stuck dismount. 9.700.
Kelley FX: The comeback…this should be a big one. DLO to open, great. Even in the post-injury phase, commentators can’t not mention Mary Lou. Great height on the double tuck to end it, chest down just a little. Huge ovation from the crowd. Good for her! 9.900.
Williams BB: To think this was the one event we expected her to do. Front tuck to back LOSO. A little off on the switch half. Gainer pike dismount, perfect!
Finnegan FX: Missed the first pass but a great double pike in the middle. Beautiful switch ring. Opens a bit early on the last pass but still a routine to be proud of. 9.950.
Sounds like there’s a disagreement between the judges on Williams’s BB. It gets a 9.625.
“Do you think gymnastics will ever be like football or baseball where-” No. No, don’t even finish- the answer is no.
Bordas BB: She falls on her leap series but won’t put her feet on the ground- she REALLY doesn’t want to do that, and she doesn’t. Dang! She smiled all throughout that, so love that she didn’t take it too seriously. Nice rest of the routine. 8.950. No bonus points for the creative fall?
Edney FX: Steps out on the double Arabian. 1.5 to punch layout much cleaner. Double tuck a tiny bit low. 9.725- the step out cost her more than I expected.
Looks like LSU will bring this one home.
FINAL: LSU 196.775 / Cal 195.650.
Some highs and lows for both teams. Cal almost definitely didn’t expect that many scores in the 9.6-9.7 range, so that will be something to build on for them. LSU had a disappointing vault rotation with two falls, but it looks like the team is up to the challenge of filling holes on bars and beam especially. The scores may not be immediately there, but Durante and Dean, especially, look like worthy contributors. It’ll be interesting to see when Bailey Ferrer becomes a factor as well.
It’s also the first time LSU went sub-197 since 2014 so…
Event Titles
AA: Finnegan (LSU)
VT: Priessman (LSU)
UB: Harrold (LSU)
BB: Finnegan (LSU)
FX: Finnegan (LSU)
One last things before you go: here’s a Twitter Moment to recap the meet!

Live blog by Katherine Weaver

Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year!

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.