Oh boy. This should be crazy.
It’s senior night in the PMAC and one of the most anticipated meets of the 2022 season! These two teams have achieved perfection several times throughout this season and neither team will go down without a fight. I’ll be here with y’all the entire meet for this intense dual between the Red Rocks and Tigers with video here and scores here.
Utah is coming into this meet with mojo from their historic meet last weekend where they matched the highest team total in the NCAA this season and also became Pac-12 co-champions. The Red Rocks have an absolutely stacked roster including 10.0-scoring gymnasts Maile O’Keefe, Sage Thompson, Grace McCallum, and Cristal Isa. Two contributors I will be paying extra attention to tonight are freshman Kara Eaker and senior Sydney Soloski. The 2021 Olympic alternate Eaker came back last week on beam after being sidelined for a majority of the season with an ankle injury so hopefully she will be back in lineups or at least in an exhibition spot somewhere tonight. Soloski has scored a 9.975 three times this season on floor and matched that mark last week against Minnesota so needless to say, if she doesn’t get a 10 tonight, I will be very upset.
LSU is also doing very well this season despite potentially losing Kai Rivers to injury again as the junior was seen in a boot and with a possible shoulder injury. If the Tigers want to win tonight, they will need sophomore Haleigh Bryant and junior Kiya Johnson to bring the heat in efforts to lead this team to victory. Bryant and Johnson are also LSU’s only 10.0 scorers this season and I am sure that there will see more where that came from. I’ll also be watching freshman KJ Johnson tonight as she has been absolutely outstanding in her first collegiate season. She has already notched impressive 9.950s on her two events (vault and floor) so far and is aiming for more. While you are waiting for the meet to start, check out this cool feature that creatively highlights who she is.
With that being said, let’s begin!
ROTATION 1: LSU VT, UTAH UB
Arenas (LSU): FTY, absolutely STUCK landing! Great start to this intense meet!
Morgan (Utah): Maloney to Bhardwaj, wow wasn’t expecting that. Blind full to double tuck dismount, little hop forward.
Shchennikova (LSU): 1.5, big bound forward. She was really far forward on the horse so the over-rotation was easy to see coming.
McCallum (Utah): Maloney to Pak, beautiful leg form on that. Van Leewuen up, everything looking great so far. Full-in dismount, stuck landing! Very clean routine and that stuck landing will leave a great impression in the judges minds.
Edwards (LSU): 1.5, similar landing to Shchennikova’s, almost identical vault. Probs nerves.
Paulson (Utah): Maloney to Pak for her releases. Misses the last handstand juuuuust a bit. Blind full to double tuck dismount, chest way up on the landing and a step back.
KJ Johnson (LSU): I love this girl! FTY, certified stuck landing! She looks prideful in that salute! Awwwww!!
Burch (Utah): Broadcast is saying Maile O’Keefe is out sick! No COVID but they have fully scratched her from the event tonight. Crowd is booing I assume because of KJ Johnson’s score… Burch starts with a straddled jaeger and a fall to her stomach. Back on the bar with her bail and double layout dismount, step on the landing.
Kiya Johnson (LSU): DTY, digs her toes into the landing and holds it, her eyes are THIS BIG woooooo! That could be a 10! Y’all have to see this one! 9.975 womp womp
Thompson (Utah): Hits the first handstand, great Pak down to the low bar. Maloney to in-bar Gienger. Very patient swing. Double layout, glued together legs in the air and a stuck landing. These teams are GOING for it tonight.
Bryant (LSU): FHS front pike half, STUCK! THIS IS CRAZY OMG. The PMAC is pumped. 10.0!! She got the 10.0!!!
Isa (Utah): Ray, straight-legged casts in this routine, unique to see. Blind full to double layout combination, that is crazy. She just whips that double layout around and sticks it! That should be a pretty good score.
AFTER 1: LSU 49.525, UTAH 49.300
Wow, what an insane first rotation! LSU was just on fire with those stuck landings and they even achieved a season-best bars score from that rotation. Don’t overlook Utah just yet though, they had some amazing bars routines as well and I can see them sticking vaults in this next rotation. Overall, it is easy to tell that both teams want this meet and they have the lineups to prove it. On we go!
ROTATION 2: LSU UB, UTAH VT
Looks like tonight’s all-around battle is between Haleigh Bryant and Grace McCallum with Bryant of course, leading with her 10.0 thus far.
Thompson (Utah): Fought for the landing on the FTY, chest down and a tiny foot shift forward.
Kiya Johnson (LSU): Good first handstand into her Maloney and bail. Double layout, sticks the landing, good momentum to begin this bars lineup.
Hall (Utah): Fun to see LSU alum and Utah coach Myia Hambrick in the background. 🙂 1.5 vault for Hall and a balance bobble back but nothing too major as far as the balance check goes.
Arenas (LSU): Toe on to tkatchev, lovely pointed toes in the air. Finished the half pirouette handstand right on top of the bar after the bail. Double layout dismount, stuck landing for the Tigers! They just keep coming!
Stanhope (Utah): 1.5, best vault we have seen so far in this Utah vault rotation, good distance and a hop. Great execution in the air too.
Dunne (LSU): Flexed feet into the Pak. Muscles that pirouette on the low bar and gets it but her grip slips and she falls off the low bar. Double layout dismount, makes it to her feet. Odd incident, not sure what happened there.
Rucker (Utah): 1.5, huge amplitude. Step forward. Seems like Utah is just missing those vault landings tonight.
Bryant (LSU): Really good open body position on the blind half going into her straddled jaeger. Good handstands in this routine, double front half dismount, some little foot shuffles on the landing.
Burch (Utah): 1.5 for her, almost stuck, tiny step back. Could achieve some more height on that vault but solid otherwise.
Shchennikova (LSU): Ray to Pak, crazy good combo. Iconic body-positioned double layout dismount, stuck landing.
McCallum (Utah): Yurchenko half on, tuck half off, clean landing, just wish she could squeeze that tucked position in a bit more.
Durante (LSU): Really happy to see her begin her career as the leadoff and finish as the anchor in this bars lineup. Giant straddled jaeger, she kinda looked like a star in the air. Good last handstand, right on top. Full-in dismount, she wanted the stick but pulls it in too hard and needs to hop.
AFTER 2: LSU 98.950, UTAH 98.800
Utah just isn’t looking like their usual selves tonight! Perhaps its due to the absence of O’Keefe in the lineups? McCallum is doing very good nonetheless and is really the shining star for the Red Rocks tonight. Hopefully they can bring the heat on floor in order to swing the lead to their side. LSU on the other hand is taking this PMAC energy and rolling with it on their senior night. Lots of stuck landings and confident skills being thrown and they aren’t letting up any time soon.
ROTATION 3: LSU BB, UTAH FX
Desiderio (LSU): Solid switch leap to switch half for her opening skills. BHS LOSO, no issues there. Cat leap to gainer full dismount, I didn’t see any wobbles in that routine!
Paulson (Utah): Front ruck through to 2.5 twist to begin, that’s a fun pass! Front layout to front full, solidifies that clean landing for the judges. RO 1.5 to front layout, lovely ending pass. Solid leadoff gymnast for Utah.
Rivers (LSU): BHS LOSO, sharp arms on her finishes. Switch leap to straddled quarter, just a bit shy of the 180 degree split. Double twist dismount, beautiful stick.
Gilstrap (Utah): This is one of my favorite floor routines in the NCAA right now. It is Bohemian Rhapsody-themed! Perfect form on her opening double tuck. Front layout to Rudi, great form. Absolutely gorgeous split position and toe point in her leaps. Front layout to front full for her last pass, what a pretty routine.
Dean (LSU): Side aerial to BHS, some leg form in the air could be fixed. Front aerial to beat jump, moving with great confidence tonight. Side aerial to full twist dismount, stuck landing, looks close to the edge of the mat on the landing but could just be my angle.
Stanhope (Utah): Huge full-in, step back on the landing, just staying in bounds. Front tuck through to double tuck for her last pass as she just has a two pass routine. Nothing too crazy in that routine…
Bryant (LSU): Good acro series. Switch leap to straddle quarter, hits those 180 splits she needs. Dropped the shoulder on her front tuck but fights to stay on. Rudi dismount, stuck landing.
Rucker (Utah): Lots of power on her half in, half out and she steps OOB. Tbh, I could use some more energy in Utah’s music and choreo. Front layout to front full for her ending pass.
Finnegan (LSU): BHS LOSO LOSO, perfect split position in the air, really arches her back in the split position to finesse the split she needs. Good, random front aerial. Ok?? Side aerial to back tuck full, cute little routine for the freshie.
McCallum (Utah): Not the broadcast putting a bio on the screen for her and showing Lucy Stanhope. They thought they ate that up. Very clean full-in opening pass. I love the jumps she does in this routine. Last pass is a front layout to front full, sort of misses the punch on the front layout, but pulls it around for the landing.
Kiya Johnson (LSU): Extremely sharp BHS LOSO, love this beam music (Rise by Katy Perry.) Switch leap, switch leap to split jump for her leaps, nothing wrong so far, plus the crowd is into this. BHS 1.5, stuck landing, I know I said it already, but that could be a 10.0! A 9.975 for her again tonight! UGH
Soloski (Utah): Please lord, give her a 10.0. Sky-high double layout, could be more aggressive on her dance. Last pass is a RO 1.5 to front layout, the height on her front layout could be adjusted to match the height on the RO 1.5
D’Antonio (LSU) Exh: BHS LOSO, this is so great to see. New Orleans girl, senior, last time in the PMAC, but unfortunately falls on her punch front. Switch leap to switch leap and has a bobble but stays on. Looks like she lost her mojo as she doesn’t even salute to the judge after her dismount. 🙁
AFTER 3: LSU 148.450, UTAH 148.200
KARA EAKER IS WARMING UP BEAM!!!! Anyways, LSU leads Utah in vault, bars, and the overall meet after three rotations due to some ready-for-postseason scores and I have a feeling someone is going to get a pretttty big score in this next rotation. Soloski leads the Red Rocks tonight with her 9.950 floor routine which sadly didn’t reach that 10.000 mark that I had been praying for. Last one everybody!
ROTATION 4: LSU FX, UTAH BB
Morgan (Utah): BHS BHS LOSO, almost thought she was off on the first BHS but she keeps it on. Switch leap to split jump, very pretty. I think one of the former LSU judges who I would always see judging floor is timing beam! Awwww! Side aerial to back full, stuck dismount. She is such a good leadoff gymnast on each event she does!
Desiderio (LSU): Double layout, she has always done that pass and I am happy to see it on her senior night. RO 1.5 to front layout, nicely done. Keeps those toes pointed on her leaps going into that last pass. Double tuck to end her PMAC career! You go girl!
McCallum (Utah): Famous Candlestick mount straight into her shoot-through. Completes the double wolf turn. Switch leap to stag jump, I haven’t seen that on beam in a while! Cat leap to side aerial for her dismount.
Shchennikova (LSU): Blackpink music per usual. Hits the first two passes, really melts the choreo in this routine. Switch leap to switch ring half, kinda jerky in the air. Sticks the Rudi to split jump ending pass.
Burch (Utah): BHS LOSO, back foot a little off but she adjusts. Split jump to double stag jump, has a tiny balance check. Cat leap to front aerial and attacks it! Gainer layout full dismount, good comeback after her bars fall.
Edwards (LSU): Super energetic routine to match her personality. Double full first pass, solid. FHS front full to front full, no problems on that. That’s the end to her PMAC career!
Paulson (Utah): Side aerial to LOSO, difficult combination. Aggressive leaps and snaps those arms down after finishing them. Beat jump through to a side aerial to back full dismount, stuck landing!
KJ Johnson (LSU): She is probably my favorite LSU gymnast! Johnson starts off with a full-in, love it! RO 1.5 to front layout, good twisting position in the air. Double tuck to close. After watching the replay it almost looks like her full-in was open! Wow!
Isa (Utah): BHS LOSO LOSO for her acro series, some flexed feet on those step outs. Aww my little favorite beam timer judge put on a coat to stay warm, guys she is so old and cute!! These Utah beam scores are building! BHS to gainer full, just slips the foot through and swings that gainer full into the mat and sticks it! Amazing routine! 9.975 for her!
Finnegan (LSU): Double arabian, almost stuck and connects it to a stag jump. 2.5 to front layout to end her routine. I feel like if I was a college gymnast, I would do that pass.
Eaker (Utah): The beam queen is back y’all! Side aerial to LOSO, almost comes off and opts out of the second LOSO. Korbut is looking good. Cat leap to tucked full twist dismount, stuck.
Bryant (LSU): No Kiya Johnson on floor tonight? Hmm. Chest up on her double front, almost looks like she could do a triple front with all the height she has. I know Olivia Trautman 2019 floor music when I hear it! FHS front layout to front full for Bryant’s last pass.
Ballard (LSU) exh: Gigantic double layout, really clean form in the air. RO 1.5 to front layout to stag jump, lots of energy in her dance. She is swinging that ponytail around, yasss girl! Speaking of Sierra Ballard, where is Chase Brock? I haven’t seen her this season and I always associate her with Sierra Ballard. Double pike to end the meet. Gritty off the floor! AHHH #iykyk
FINAL RESULTS: LSU 198.125, UTAH 197.875
And LSU takes the win! What a meet! A 10.000 from Bryant in the opening rotation, Eaker officially back in the beam lineup, and my favorite little LSU floor judge back on the concourse floor, this time as a beam timer! What a night! I will admit, I thought these two teams would finish closer together as far as scores go, but they did get some valuable experience competing against each other otherwise. I think they are both ready for postseason. Well everyone, thanks for watching with me tonight as that concludes my live blog coverage for the season! What a meet to go out with am I right? Now for the final time: so long my friends, farewell, goodbye!
VT Winner: Bryant (LSU) 10.000
UB Winner: McCallum (Utah), Shchennikova (LSU) 9.925
BB Winner: Paulson (Utah), Isa (Utah) 9.975
FX Winner: Edwards (LSU) 9.975
AA Winner: Bryant (LSU) 39.700
Live blog by Carolyn Lien
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