LIVE BLOG: No. 6 LSU, No. 30 Pittsburgh and Centenary at No. 47 Texas Woman’s

What was looking like an interesting dual meet has now turned into a quad with Pitt making its second trip to Texas this season and Centenary joining as a late addition after being unable to travel to the northeast this weekend due to weather. The Panthers are coming off the best team total in program history and an upset of No. 8 Minnesota in consecutive weeks. Needless to say, Pittsburgh is on the quick rise. The last time the Panthers made their way to Kitty Magee, the team broke a program beam record, the same one the team broke again last weekend. Pitt’s freshmen Hallie Copperwheat and Sidney Washington have been making quite the splash this season, but we cannot ignore senior Katie Chamberlain. After all, Chamberlain did become an owner of the program record on bars while posting three 9.9-plus scores in the last two weeks. 

LSU comes to Denton after a long double meet weekend. The Tigers left the high of beating No. 7 Alabama on Friday night and were met with an upset loss to No. 9 Mizzou on Sunday. LSU did establish a new season high of 198.050 at home, but lack of depth reared its head a bit in Columbia as the team total dropped back down to 197.200. I understand that double meet weekends are always a daunting task, but that is exactly what the Tigers will need to prepare for if they expect to advance through regionals on to nationals. However, several of LSU’s best athletes are currently managing chronic injuries that require some rest after each competition, and the routines that replace them are not always of the same scoring potential. Namely, Kai Rivers was rested on all three of her events on Sunday while Kiya Johnson was removed from the floor lineup yet again during both competitions last weekend. Aliya Finnegan also had her first off day in Columbia, sustaining a fall on beam and floor. On the bright side, Haleigh Bryant was able to put together two strong all around performances including a season high 39.700 at Missouri, complete with another vault perfect 10.0. With only two more away meets left this season, LSU will look to put up a big total this week to increase its NQS. Considering how scoring typically goes when power five schools arrive in Denton, that should not be a difficult task assuming the Tigers can stay on the equipment. I’m curious to see if LSU sends out its A team today to maximize its scoring potential or if athletes will be rested due to the near guaranteed tallies in the win column.

TWU made a jump to No. 2 in the USAG rankings after a strong double meet weekend in California. The Pioneers even posted a season high of 195.425 on Friday and had several athletes surpass the 9.900 threshold on Sunday. This team is finally coming together at the right time, putting increasing pressure on No. 1 Lindenwood. With three strong away scores already on board, the Pioneers need not put any excessive pressure on any particular meet through the rest of the season. TWU will look to continue its momentum from last weekend in order to drop its last sub-193 score from its NQS. Athletes to watch include Madeline Gose, Sierra Muns and Isabel Goyco. 

Centenary was added to this competition yesterday after multiple flight cancellations. Instead of a double meet weekend at New Hampshire and Springfield, the Ladies have found themselves back in Texas for the second time this season. So far in 2022, Centenary has struggled with consistency and managing injuries. Kendall Sanders has been the calm amongst the storm since the season opener at LSU. At the Ladies’ last competitions at Alaska, Sanders posted back to back season highs in the all around and a new career high on beam. Madison McCary also made a collegiate debut on bars in Alaska. She’s looking to upgrade her dismount to improve her start value. Watch for the possible return of Chloe Armentor this meet and possible lineup adjustments. Xian Baumgartner should be back in action tonight after missing the last two competitions.

Given the large difference in these teams’ rankings, it wouldn’t be expected for this to be a particularly tight competition. However, I’m loving the number of competitions this season that have included teams from various divisions and conferences. The point of this competition for all teams involved will be to drop the lowest score still counting in the NQS total. A strong score today can help to improve LSU’s regional seeding, secure Pittsburgh a regional berth and push TWU toward the No. 1 spot in USAG. 

Here’s LSU’s tentative lineups for this evening. Note that Alyona Shchennikova is back in on bars!

My live stream is not on yet at the moment. In the meantime, here’s a video of all of today’s competitors in a cowboy hat. Thank you to Pitt Gymnastics for this little piece of joy. Welcome to Texas!

Don’t worry, fans! I was just informed that the 1993 TWU national championship-winning team is being announced tonight as they are being inducted into the athletic hall of fame! The action should start soon. Why the cameras can’t be turned on in the arena while this ceremony is going on? I’ll never understand.

OK. I have a quad split screen, but I only have two eyes. I will do my very best to give you the details. It’s my first liveblog of a quad meet, so send up a prayer.

Rotation 1: TWU VT, LSU UB, Centenary BB, Pitt FX

Alexis Jeffrey is making her debut tonight on bars! This is not a drill!

Lazarus (TWU): Nice Yurchenko full. 9.725

Kiya Johnson (LSU): Definitely missed the majority of that routine. Nice double layout with a hop back. 9.800

Molina (CC): Solid on the HS BHS LOSO series. She fell on her jump series. Front Aerial.

Six (TWU): Pretty big hop back on the Yurchenko full today.

Arenas (LSU): Tkatchev. Pak salto. Better today. Double layout. The smallest hop in place. 9.875

Miller (Pitt): Nice and high on the double tuck. Front lay front full to jump. Ends with a double pike.

Gose (TWU): Pretty vault there with a hop back. Good height and distance.

Muns (TWU): The vaults just get higher and higher. Another hop back, but that’s something to get excited about.

Beckwith(Pitt): Double tuck. Chest low. Back 1.5, front layout. Had to pull that around. I think she was OOB too? Unsure.

Deshler (CC): Front Aerial. Had to repeat. Front Aerial again, falls this time. BHS BHS. She won’t meet the series requirement.

Dunne (LSU): Tkatchev to pak, smooth connection. A step forward on the double layout with legs apart in the air. 9.700. A pleasant surprise.

Two nice vaults for TWU. Honestly they’re vaults more or less look the same.

Bryant (LSU): Jaeger, perfect height and distance. Overshoot. Blind, double front half. Smallest hop. 9.925

Steelie King performed an exhibition on vault as well.

Hutchison(Pitt): Front double full. Nice lines there. Good extension on the leap. double back. Nice finish for her.

Baumgartner (CC): Beat, split 3/4. BHS… balks on her series. Repeats. Front full dismount with a step back.

Shchennikova (LSU): Tkatchev to pak. Nice height on the release. Piked down on the double layout dismount. Stuck. 9.900. Welcome back.

Durante (LSU): Beautiful Jaeger, pak salto. FTDT, stuck with her chest down again this week. 9.925

Ewing (Pitt): A sky high double tuck. NICEEEEEE. Back 1.5 front layout. So floaty. I’m digging this. Ends with a double pike. Yes ma’am!

Martinez (CC): Switch leap, switch side. Front toss, back tuck. A small foot adjustment there. Gainer pike dismount, stuck. Finally a normal routine for the ladies. 9.700

Hi I missed Alexis’ debut. Sorry.

Copperwheat (Pitt): Double tuck. Nice one. Tour jete half, split full. Good shape in the air. Back 1.5, front layout. Double pike. Best landing of the routine. Pitt is definitely building here on floor.

Lavelle (CC): Switch side. Solid. Hitch kick side Aerial. Beautiful. I missed her series but the team was happy with it. RO back 1.5 with a hop forward. 9.725

Washington (Pitt): Double pike. Very open shape. You can get away with it when you can jump that high. front lay, front full. Double tuck. A great routine for her! That team score is going to be great. 9.875

Sanders (CC): BHS back layout two feet. A slight check. Switch side, solid. Switch leap, tuck full, beat jump. Tucked front full dismount. Stuck.

Wilson (CC): A rolling around on the beam mount. How nifty. Front toss… slightly off. Took a fall today. BHS by itself. So no series I’m guessing. Cat leap, split leap, sheep jump. A little too open on that. Kick over down to the beam. Split jump, tuck full. A check. Front full dismount, stuck.

I’m sorry. All the names the commentators are giving me are incorrect. I’m adjusting.

AFTER ONE: LSU 49.425, Pitt 49.025, TWU 48.800, Centenary 46.925

That event was a whirlwind wow. How do some of our editors do this on a regular basis? Anyway… The top three teams put on a pretty consistent showing in the first rotation. Emerson Adams did her usual thing on vault and led the way with a 9.850. It was good to see Shchennikova back in the bar lineup this week after a brief hiatus due to a knee injury. Pitt was putting on a SHOW on floor. Honestly, I was expecting a little more than a 49.025 considering the gymnastics I saw. Especially Ewing and Washington, I was thinking more 9.900. Centenary had to count a couple falls in that rotation, but the freshmen led the way. Carissa Martinez posted a season high 9.700.

Rotation 2: Pitt VT, TWU UB, LSU BB, Centenary FX

My stream glitched and I had to restart. We’re back.

King (TWU): Jaeger, overshoot. Blind full double tuck. Small hop. 9.825

Desiderio (LSU): Stuck gainer full, her usual routine. 9.800

Deshler (CC): Front lay, front full. 9.325

Durante (LSU): Front Aerial, BHS BHS. Beautiful leap series. Side Aerial back full. Stuck. 9.775

Lazarus (TWU): Overshoot, toe up to high. Tkatchev. Double layout. Some pike. Hop back. 9.675

I apologize for the vaults I miss. I’ll let you know if anything goes astray.

9.700 for Beckwith on vault.

Arenas (LSU): BHS LOSO with a step back. Switch leap, split jump. Side Aerial, solid. RO back 1.5 dismount, stuck. I think that was a season debut. 9.800

Copperwheat (Pitt): Stuck full today. LOVED that.

Podges (TWU): Jaeger, pack salto. Blind full, double tuck. Large hop. 9.775. That’s definitely one of her best scores.

Baumgartner (CC): Nice switch half, ring. Back 1.5, front tuck. Slightly crooked, but stayed in bounds. Good routine from her. 9.550

Griffith (TWU): Jaeger, overshoot handstand. Nice. FTDT, large hop back. 9.775

Bryant (LSU): Small check on the switch leap, straddle 1/4. Good series. Solid front tuck. Very confident. Punch Rudi dismount. Stuck. 9.875

Another strong vault for Pitt from Washington.

L. Johnson (CC): Double pike, nice chest up. Nice leap series. Double tuck! Good height there. Back 1.5, front layout. Squatty on that landing. 9.525

Goyco (TWU): Clearhip, Geinger, missed that one today. Stuck double tuck. She took a LONG time to remount. 8.050

Finnegan (LSU): BHS LOSO LOSO. She gave nothing away. Switch leap, split jump. Lovely lines. Front Aerial. Perfection. Side Aerial, tucked full. Stuck. 9.925

Kiya Johnson (LSU): BHS lOSO, large wobble with a bend at the waist. Switch, switch, split jump. Front toss, nice. Step salute out of the dismount this week.

M. Johnson (TWU): Tkatchev, nice height, some knees. Overshoot hand. Double tuck dismount. Small hop. I think TWU will escape counting a fall today. 9.775

Martinez (CC): Double tuck, some chest down. Stronger landing on the second pass. Front lay, front full. Much better than her debut floor performance. 9.650

KJ Johnson (LSU ex): Switch leap, straddle 1/4. BHS LOSO. Nice landing. Side Aerial. Good. RO back 1.5 dismount. Stuck. A good first beam routine for the freshman.

Pierce (TWU ex): Blind, Jaeger. Nice. 1/2 pirouette. Unique front dismount with a hop forward.

Lavelle (CC): Rolled out of the first double tuck. Front lay, front full. Landed out of bounds and flew… Did a back layout for the last pass. She just looked off today. Not sure what happened there. That will be the score the Ladies look to drop.

The judges are deliberating on top of the beam. Perhaps the LSU scores are about to increase? TBD.

Sanders (CC): Double pike, nice chest up. Switch side, popa. Rudi. Missed the jump connection there, loss of control on the landing. Front lay, front full. Nice height. Biggest deduction was that second pass. Not sure if her start value will be effected from missing the connection.

Wedge (CC ex): Double pike. Nice landing, good height and control. Switch side, popa down to the knee. Front lay, front full. Strong landing there too. Double tuck, just held onto it with a lunge forward. Way to keep it on her feet.

AFTER TWO: LSU 98.650, Pitt 97.925, TWU 97.625, Centenary 94.625

I don’t know that LSU with be super overjoyed with that few 9.9-plus scores. Aleah Finnegan was lights out. I honestly saw ZERO deductions, but that’s just me. It was also nice to see KJ do an exhibition routine to flex some depth on that event. Pitt looked nice again on vault with three scores above 9.800. TWU had a better score on bars than it did on vault. What a night! Led by a 9.825 from King and a trio of 9.775s, the Pioneers will be elated with the result. Centenary had an uncharacteristic routine from Lavelle, but was able to rally to avoid counting a fall and put together the best floor total on the season.

Here’s Chamberlain’s career high on vault since I stink at my job.

Rotation 3: Centenary VT, Pitt UB, TWU BB, LSU FX

A look at Pitt’s bar lineup:

Desiderio (LSU): Double layout. Nice landing. A little less control on the middle pass. Landed short on the double tuck last pass. Had to put her hand down.

Six (TWU): BHS LOSO. Strong leap series. Front toss, small check. RO back 1.5 dismount. Stuck. Good opening routine for the freshman.

Plaza (CC): Good Tsuk layout with a hop back. 9.500

L. Johnson (CC): Stuck her vault again this week. That’s three in a row. 9.600

Woodring (TWU): BHS LOSO, nice. Switch, switch, split. A little short on the back leg. Front toss, beat. Nice. Strong dismount.

Ewing (Pitt): front giant, Jaeger. Overshoot. A little loose on the catch.

Dunne (LSU): front through to double tuck. Good chest up. Double pike. The best I’ve seen from her.

Just a layout from Sanders this week on vault.

Podges (TWU): BHS LOSO. Solid. Switch leap, switch half, beat. A little slow on the second connection. Gainer pike. stuck. 9.825. Career high.

KJ Johnson (LSU): FTDT. Lovely. So high, so controlled. A little bouncy on that second pass. Switch side, popa. Open double tuck. Nice routine for her.

Ward (Pitt): I saw her cast over after walking around a while. Not sure what happened?

*I think my eyes deceived me because I do not see a score for Ward on bars on the live stats?

Kunzman (TWU): BHS LOSO LOSO. So nice. Her normal. Switch, switch. A little under split position. RO back 1.5 dismount. Good landing there. The Pioneers are in this thing! 9.875. Ties a career high.

Chamberlain (Pitt): Jaeger. Nice overshoot. FTDT, stuck and sky high. Wow.

Edwards (LSU): Front double full. Nice landing control. Switch side, popa, straight jump full? Front full, front full. So good. Idk how she does those.

King (TWU): BHS LOSO. Came around the side some and had to make a arm wave connection. Front tuck. Small correction. Good leap series. RO back 1.5 dismount with a hop back.

Washington (Pitt): Blind full, double tuck. I saw a pretty pak salto out of the corner of my eye. What all paks were meant to be.

Finnegan (LSU): Arabian double front, deer leap. Very nice this week. Back 2.5 front layout. Went right up to the corner.

Gose (TWU): Leg up check on Gose’s series this week. Switch leap, switch side. Very intentional about her extension.

Balderas (TWU ex): Side Aerial. Solid. Good extension on the leaps. falls on her BHS LOSO series. Switch side with another check.

Kiya Johnson (LSU): FTDT. Nice height with a slide back. Back 1.5, front layout. Another good landing. Double pike. Chest nice and high. Loved that routine. There’s a 10.0 chant of course. 9.950

AFTER THREE: LSU 148.075, Pitt 147.175, TWU 146.550, Centenary 142.175

I’m going to have to start chanting “Hail to Pitt!” The Panthers are unstoppable this evening. Chamberlain got another 9.900 on the event followed closely by Copperwheat’s 9.875. LSU did not count a score below 9.875 despite a falter from Desiderio in the first spot. I genuinely was expecting more 10.0s from these judges tonight. What a pleasant surprise. Centenary put together the best vault rotation it could considering the circumstances. Leilani Johnson is turning into a stick machine on her layed out Yurchenko while Kendall Huff continues to be a consistent force there.

Rotation 4: LSU VT, Centenary UB, Pitt BB, TWU FX

Bonzagni (TWU): Double back on the first pass. Switch side, popa, good extension. Front full, front lay, some leg form.

A good Yurchenko full from LSU. Duranted 9.800

Chamberlain (Pitt): BHS BHS LOSO. just lovely. Switch leap, straddle 1/4. Small hop on the back 1.5 dismount. 9.850

Edwards (LSU): Medium step forward on the Yurchenko 1.5 today. 9.850

Arenas (LSU): Stuck yurchenko 1.5. That’s the SEC vault champion! 9.875

Pierce (TWU): Front double full, some soft knees, strong landing. Switch side, popa. Back 1.5, front full. A good routine.

KJ Johnson (LSU): Another stuck full! Go off! 9.95. So perfection.

(Pitt): Front toss, BHS. Loved that conenction. Front toss to scale. Tucked front full. A wild lunge forward.

McCary (CC): Tkatchev. Nice. Overshoot. Some leg form. She upgraded to the double tuck dismount this week! So exciting to see her in the lineup! 9.600. I could cry tears of joy.

Kiya Johnson (LSU): A slide back on the Yurchenko double full today.

M. Johnson (TWU): Beautiful double pike there! Chest nice and high. Back 1.5, front full. Good control. Rudi.

Ewing (Pitt): Front Aerial. A bobble there. Front Aerial, BHS. Good choice to repeat. Switch leap, switch half. Small check. Side Aerial, tucked full. Strong landing.

Bryant (LSU): Her normal extravagant vault with a small hop. 9.950

Baumgartner (CC): Casted over, swing half, pak salto. Good cover. Clear hip half pirouette. Toe up to high. Dropped down. Casted over again.

Muns (TWU): Double pike. Front lay, front full. TEXTBOOK. Back tuck to belly drop. Double tuck. A little short with a lunge forward. Covered well. 9.625

Weiss (Pitt): BHS LOSO. PRETTY. Switch leap, straddle 1/4. Front Aerial, split jump. Gainer pike with a small hope. 9.500. I clearly missed something.

Goyco (TWU): Bounced OOB on the opening double pike. Front lay, front full. Good. Double tuck. Perfect. Way to bring that routine back.9.725? I’m confused but fine with it.

Copperwheat (Pitt): BHS LOSO. The Panthers know how to do a good series. RO back 1.5 dismount. Stuck.

Sanders let go too early on her double layout dismount and couldn’t quite pull it around. 8.800

Gose (TWU): What a lovely double pike from her! Wow. front full, front lay. Rudi. Nice and high with a small slide back. 9.825

Wilson (CC): Maloney, pak salto. Smooth connection. Some legs. FTDT. Landed with the chest really low with a step back. 9.650

Woodring (TWU ex): Double pike. WOW. Front full, front lay. Nice again. Double tuck. Chest low but good control.

Beckwith (Pitt): Switch half, nice extension. Beat, split 3/4. Side Aerial, back full. She’s hype. I am too.

Armentor (CC): Missed her Jaeger this week. Overshoot handstand. Double tuck, small hop forward. 8.350

The highlight of the rotation? Perfection. The Ice cold kind.

FINAL: LSU 197.625, Pitt 195.600, TWU 195.450, Centenary 188.075

I just want to sit here and admire how close TWU was to beating Pittsburgh yet again this week. Both teams had strong performances tonight. Although from my position it did seem like there should been a bit more differentiation between scores, TWU proved that consistency can definitely keep it in the race. The Pioneers had multiple career highs tonight including beam scores from Kyla Podges and Kenzie Kunzman. Despite a couple hiccups on beam, the other three events held it down for the Panthers. I was particularly impressed with its 49.250 on bars. LSU will be happy to be rid of one of its road 196s. However, I have a feeling the Tigers were looking to blow this meet a bit further out of the water. It will be happy to have Shchennikova back in the bar lineup and showing some more depth on beam and floor. Part of me is wondering when Kai Rivers will be back at least on one or two events. Her presence is missing out there on the competition floor. On the bright side, Aleah Finnegan was looking a lot more like herself this week, posting 9.9s on beam and floor. Centenary started with some visible nerves on beam, but was able to come together on the other three events to post a season high team score. The bright spots of the competition were season high performances from Carissa Martinez and Madison McCary. Overall, the floor and bars lineups did show some improvements this week. However, consistency is still a major concern for the Ladies.

AA Winner: Kiya Johnson 39.450

VT Winner: Haleigh Bryant & KJ Johnson 9.950

UB Winner: Haleigh Bryant & Sami Durante 9.925

BB Winner: Aleah Finnegan 9.925

FX Winner: Kiya Johnson 9.950

Live Blog by Tavia Smith

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