Welcome to one of the most anticipated meets of the season! Florida and LSU have spent the better part of the last decade establishing themselves as the top two teams in the SEC. While this rivalry doesn’t quite reach the cutthroat levels of peak Alabama and Georgia, there’s guaranteed to be some drama (especially on Twitter).
Because there are actual stakes in play both in-conference and nationally, expect both teams to put up their most competitive routines: Trinity Thomas, Haleigh Bryant and Kiya Johnson all made their all around debuts last week and immediately landed in the national top 10. The Gators’ rotating cast of all arounders also includes Leanne Wong, Megan Skaggs and Sloane Blakely, all of whom should feature prominently in Friday’s lineups. LSU, meanwhile, has relied heavily on its depth of specialists to fill out lineups, with Alyonna Shchennikova the only other Tiger to compete in the all around this season.
While Florida leads the all-time series 73-42, LSU has won 12 of their last 17 meetings (the Gators won last year’s dual meet by a tenth). Both teams are heading into this meet undefeated, so the winner will have a decided edge heading into the postseason and conference championships.
You know something big’s about to go down when John says “y’all.”
Rotation One: Florida vault, LSU barsSkaggs (UF): John calls her “a luxury” for the Gators’ lineup; ain’t that the truth? Gorgeous Y full in the air, a touch of leg sep in the preflight and a small hop back. 9.900
Johnson (LSU): Some leg sep on the Maloney, nice Pak. A touch shy on her final handstand. Nice, high DLO with a miniscule hop back. 9.825
Schoenherr (UF): Dynamic Y 1.5 with slightly soft knees and a small hop forward. 9.875
Rivers (LSU): Pretty, controlled first handstand. Clean Maloney, lost some body tension in the bail. Nice form on her Tkatchev. Pretty DLO with a stick. 9.825
Wong (UF): Doesn’t quite complete the RO half on but nice pike shape in the air. Better chest position on the landing and a small hop back. 9.900
Dunne (LSU): Big Tkatchev to Pak, good. Pretty short final handstand. Very wonky DLO with a deep landing, but stuck. 9.900…That’s too high for many reasons, especially compared to Johnson and Rivers.
Reed (UF): Her usual huge Y 1.5, small hop forward. Lovely. 9.900
Bryant (LSU): Blind half to straddled Jaeger, a bit close on the regrasp. Nice from on the bail. Blind change to double front half basically stuck. 9.950
Thomas (UF): WOW! Y 1.5 stuck perfectly upright. 9.975 is honestly too low.
Shchennikova (LSU): Big Tkatchev to Pak, cleaner than usual. Good amplitude on her DLO, but some leg sep and a hop back. 9.850
Blakely (UF): Had a weird shoulder angle on her block, so got plenty of distance but no amplitude. Landed in a squat and takes some big steps back. 9.675
Durante (LSU): Really aggressive blind change to straddled Jaeger. Slight leg sep on her Pak, probably won’t be visible to the judges. Fabulous FTDT, stuck. 9.900 is fine in a bubble, but that should not have the same score as Dunne’s.
AFTER ONE ROTATION: Florida 49.550, LSU 49.425
We expected this to be tight, and the first rotation did not disappoint! Blakely’s missed block aside, this is probably the best Florida’s looked on vault this season: Cleaned up form in the air and well-controlled (if not totally perfect) landings. I maintain Thomas should’ve gotten a 10 for that one.
Similarly, LSU looked much tighter on bars than we’ve seen this season (Dunne’s flukey vault not withstanding).
Rotation Two: Florida bars, LSU vaultRivers (LSU): Incredibly clean and floaty Y full. Small hop on the landing. 9.825 is too low (in context) for the form and amplitude.
Blakely (UF): Beautiful first handstand. Lovely Maloney, but catches her Pak too close; tries to work through, goes into a front support and comes off. Blind half to double front with some form and a small hop forward.
Edwards (LSU): Excellent Y 1.5 with a tiny scoot back. 9.875
Skaggs (UF): Gorgeous, deliberate first handstand. Tkatchev to Pak, no problem. Slightly short final handstand. Her usual leg sep on the DLO and lands a little unevenly, has to take a step. 9.850
Arenas (LSU): Big Y full with the slightest pike down and a small hop back. 9.850
McCusker (UF): Another pretty first handstand. Excellent Maloney to Pak combo. Slightly short handstand and has to take an extra toe on before the VL. Blind change off kilter and takes a half pirouette and extra giant before her double tuck, landed deep. 9.850 is pretty sketchy.
K.J. Johnson (LSU): Fantastic Y full, clean and stuck. 9.900
Schoenherr (UF): Her usual excellent blind change to straddled Jaeger. Bail looks good. Blind change to double front half, stuck. Veteran performance. 9.950
K. Johnson (LSU): Huge Y double full, tons of amplitude but a little off center and a miniscule hop to the side. 9.950 is too high, but averages out KJ Johnson’s lowballed score… Because THAT’S how gymnastics scoring works!
Thomas (UF): Fabulous Maloney to Pak. Floats the VL to a slow, deliberate handstand. Definitively stuck DLO. 9.950
Bryant (LSU): Massive FHS pike half with a tiny step back. Gorgeous as always. 9.900
Wong (UF): Crisp Maloney to Pak. Kind of wonky on her VL but works through it. DLO with a textbook college salute. Leanne has learned how to be a gamer. 9.850
AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: UF 99.000, LSU 98.900That was an uneven bars rotation for the Gators. All of the freshmen looked a bit nervy, which is to be expected. The upper classmen were absolutely unflappable and helped things from going too far off the rails.
Smart strategy by LSU to keep their clean Y fulls in the lineup rather than push some of their riskier 10.0 SVs. KJ Johnson was the standout of the rotation for me and honestly wouldn’t have been mad at it going 9.950.
So far, all we know after two rotations is that these are two very evenly-matched teams and very inconsistent judges.
Rotation Three: Florida beam, LSU floorSkaggs (UF): Pretty wolf turn. Switch ring to split jump, excellent positions. Bhs loso, lovely. Front aerial with a hint of a check? Would need to see a replay. Cat leap to switch side, great. Side aerial to full with a hop. Well done. 9.875
Desiderio (LSU): Well-controlled DLO to open. Back 1.5 to front lay, a little bit of form in the air. Switch full to switch half, great positions. Big double tuck to finish, solid landing. Great lead-off. 9.900
Blakely (UF): Front aerial to bhs, beautiful. Switch leap to switch half, very nice. Full turn, good. Side somi with a multi-leg up check. Side aerial to a stuckish full. Great routine other than the side somi. 9.600
Shchennikova (LSU): FHS front double full, a little wild on the landing. Back 1.5 to front full, again overrotates the latter and turns out of it, but finesses it well. Switch half to switch ring half, good amplitude. FHS Rudi to loso, best pass of the routine. 9.850
Baumann (UF): Straddle mount. Bhs loso, solid. Switch half to split leap, no problems. Front aerial to beat, beautiful. Side aerial with a tiny adjustment. Missed her foot on the RO back 1.5, comes up on her toes but refuses to take a step. 9.900
K.J. Johnson (LSU): Nice open FTDT, clean landing. Back 1.5 to front lay, nice rise. Switch side to Popa, big amplitude on both. She’s been such a great addition to this lineup. One of the cleanest gymnasts they have. High double tuck kicked out with a small scoot back to finish. Great routine. 9.950
Wong (UF): Switch leap to split leap, good. Bhs loso, lovely. Love the arms up on her full turn. Switch ring, good I think? Not a great angle. Floooats the front aerial. RO double full, stuck. Excellent! 9.925
Finnegan (LSU): Fantastic Arabian double front to stag, great. Pretty switch full to a wonky switch half. Back 2.5 to front lay, didn’t get a great punch so the lay was pretty flat and had to bend her knees to absorb the landing. Even with a few hiccups, that was a fun performance and she sold it. 9.900 is high
Thomas (UF): Switch leap to split. One-armed bhs loso, perfect. Front aerial to beat to Korbut, ends up lopsided. Shouldn’t be a fall, but will (OK, should…) be a few tenths. Side aerial to full, stuck. 9.700
Bryant (LSU): Fhs double front, excellent. I’d love to see her and 2016 Brenna Dowell do a front tumbling competition. Fhs full to front lay, good. Switch ring to switch half, good. Fhs double full, really deep squat and a hop to the side. 9.775
Clapper (UF): Bhs loso loso, no issues. Switch leap to split jump, nice. Side aerial to full, stuck. Clutch routine. 9.950
Johnson (LSU): Her usual enormous FTDT with a big slide back. Back 2.5 to front tuck… Hmm, interesting. Switch half to straddle half. Gorgeous double pike to finish, good landing. That tuck was supposed to be a layout, so we’ll see what the judges do with it. 9.850 is obviously a very solid score, but not what the Tigers are used to from Johnson.
AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: Florida 148.350, LSU 148.350
Who’s surprised that it’s tied heading into the final rotation?
Florida continues to be streaky on beam, but did a great job of handling adversity and turning in a respectable team score.
LSU will be frustrated at not being able to capitalize on errors from Florida on beam. This is one of those situations where the individual scores were a little sus, but the team total is about right.
FYI, Wong is currently leading the all around. Love it. LOVE IT.
Ugh, Bryant’s pulled out of beam. Not surprising, she looked pained after that final pass.
Rotation Four: Florida floor, LSU beamDesiderio (LSU): Switch leap to switch half, a little low on the latter. Bhs loso, lovely. Wasn’t able to kick out of her full turn. Cat leap to gainer full, stuck. Not her best, but a solid lead-off. 9.875
Skaggs (UF): Double wolf, good. Fhs Rudi to double stag, jump was a little uncontrolled in the air but solid landing. Switch half to switch full, good. CHOMP. Back 1.5 to front lay, a little bit flat on the front lay and lands in a deep knee bend. Nice lead-off. 9.900 is a bit high.
Durante (LSU): I love her aggressive full turn. Oof, hits her plant foot on her front aerial and comes off. Redoes it beautifully and connected to the bhs loso. Switch side with a bend at the waist. Side aerial to full, stuck. 9.350
Baumann (UF): Slide down to straddle. Back 1.5 to front full, turns out of it a little but looks in control. Overrotates her L turn a bit and then balks her leap. Switch full series, good. Double pike, perfect. 9.900 is… Demonstrably incorrect.
Dean (LSU): Side aerial to bhs with soft knees and feet. Switch leap to split. Front aerial to beat, lovely. Side aerial to back full, a little piked but stuck. Great answer to Durante’s fall. 9.875
Wong (UF): Good lord, enormous triple full. Gogean to switch half, lovely. RO whip full to front full, a little underrotated. Doesn’t connect the stag, IMO. Double pike landed back on her heels, front leg comes up. Some obvious errors, but she’s truly a joy to watch. 9.975… Again, that is not mathematically possible with the *objective* errors.
Finnegan (LSU): Bhs loso loso, rock solid with gorgeous extension. Split jump to switch leap, lovely. Front aerial with a tiny waver. Bhs 1.5 with a small hop forward. 9.875
Reed (UF): Sky high DL, perfect landing. Front lay to front 1.5, beautiful. Really dynamic wolf full, love it. Double tuck, perfect. Granted, I’m typing while I watch, but I’ve got nothing. I don’t see how you don’t give a 10 seeing how Wong got a 9.975 with a foot up. Yep, it’s a 10 (and I’m not mad).
Rivers (LSU): Bhs los with the merest hip check. Switch half a hair short. Switch leap to switch half, well done. I don’t usually like cutesy beam choreo, but her clap and blowing a kiss is fun. Back double full, stuck. Can’t ask for much more from a last minute sub. 9.900
Thomas (UF): Beautifully well-controlled DLO, one of the highest I’ve seen her do. Fhs front full front lay to Sissone, good. Switch half to switch full. Signature pose, boom. Underrotates the double pike, steps forward. The opening pass was just obscene. 9.975 is just… No. Gorgeous routine, but again–very obvious, visible error with a required deduction.
Johnson (LSU): Drills her bhs loso. Switch leap series to split jump, great. Front toss with a bit of a hip wave. RO back 1.5, stuck cold. Strong finish for the Tigers.
Blakely (UF): Arabian tucked double front, takes it right to the edge and a small foot adjustment but really nice. Switch ring to switch half, no problem. Tidy double tuck, very nice. Milks the Gator chomp, love it. Back 1.5 to front lay, well done. Nice bounce back from earlier struggles.
AFTER FOUR ROTATIONS: Florida 198.150, LSU 197.825
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Several of those floor scores were wrong. Several scores for both teams throughout the competition were wrong. I don’t necessarily think it would have changed the final result.
LSU should a lot of grit and fight through that beam rotation and should be proud of their performance here tonight. Florida had an uneven performance, to be sure, but also showed some absolute brillant gymnastics tonight. One thing’s for sure, this is going to be an exciting and TIGHT postseason for the SEC teams.
VT: Trinity Thomas, 9.975
UB: Haleigh Bryant, Savannah Schoenherr, Trinity Thomas, 9.950
BB: Leah Clapper, Kiya Johnson, 9.950
FX: Nya Reed, 10.000
AA: Leanne Wong, 39.650
Live blog by Claire Billman
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