LIVE BLOG: No. 1 Oklahoma at No. T-10 LSU

Greetings from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center! School holidays on Monday are a blessed thing because it means I get to bring you this live blog from the floor! This is a meet that I’ve had earmarked as a fan since before I officially joined CGN (shout out to Elizabeth for ‘nicely’ informing me I was required to attend), and for gymnastics fans, there’s a lot of storylines to be excited about.

The reigning national champion, Oklahoma, is on a quest to win its first back-to-back titles since 2016 and 2017. At the Super 16 Vegas meet, it handily won its session with a 197.925. Sophomore Jordan Bowers picked up where she left off last season—and adding beam—by tying for second in the all-around, and Big 12 Newcomer of the Week Faith Torrez proved she will be one to watch with 9.900-plus scores on beam and floor. Oklahoma will want to keep up its momentum and get a big score in an environment that is notoriously friendly for big scores. Look to see if Bowers goes for the all-around for the second week in a row and if junior Katherine Levasseur returns to more than just vault after nursing a back injury at the Super 16.

LSU is in the midst of a rebuilding season after losing a large number of routines from its seniors. The Tigers competed at Utah last week where they had a great showing in a tough road environment. Sophomore Aleah Finnegan dazzled in her all-around debut, sharing the title with teammate Haleigh Bryant and winning the floor title with a 9.950. However, the Tigers are coming off an emotional Friday night loss in Kentucky. Bryce Wilson had a scary fall on balance beam and senior all-arounder Kiya Johnson did not finish her floor routine after a lower leg injury. Head coach Jay Clark will have to utilize his depth in today’s home opener if LSU wants to keep pace with Oklahoma.

Hi friends! We’re in the final warmup rotation and here are a few things I’ve seen during warmups:

Sierra Ballard looks to be warming up in Bryce Wilson’s place on beam and Chase Brock looks to be warming up floor. Danae Fletcher warmed up a beautiful triple twist on floor and Jordan Bowers looks to be back in the beam lineup for a second week in a row after warming up the event beautifully. Olivia Dunne is not dressed out, so it does not look like she’ll be competing today. Still waiting to get official confirmation as to why. Elena Arenas is also warming up floor.

Aaaaand we have lineups! Bryant and Finnegan in all around for LSU, Bowers and Torrez for OU! Torrez makes her all-around debut today. Brock in on vault and floor, Tatum in on bars!!

Intros are starting now, we are 13 minutes away from first vault!

Alrighty, here we go!!

ROTATION 1: LSU Vault, OU Bars

Arenas: Yurchenko full. No leg separation in the air, hop back on the landing. 9.775

Sievers: No leg separations on any of the transitions, not a ton of height on the dismount, but clean landing. 9.850

Shchennikova: Yurchenko 1.5, good height, side step on the landing. 9.875

Torrez: good toe point to start, slight leg separation on the Maloney. DLO dismount, slight legs but not a ton.

Brock: Yurchenko 1.5, good height and distance, side step on the landing. 9.800.

Fletcher: Piked jaeger was gorgeous, little short from my angle on that second handstand, half in-half out dismount stuck! 9.850.

KJ Johnson: Y full, her usual height and distance, small step on the landing. 9.875

R. Smith: short on the first handstand. Looked like she caught the Ray close, her last handstand looked slightly short, but it could be my angle. BEAUTIFUL double layout dismount! 9.950!

Finnegan: Omelianchik, step forward. Her best one of those so far. Slight leg separation going onto the table. 9.850

Bowers: Straddled jaeger was beautiful, toe point is immaculate, half in half out was CLEAN. That was a good routine. 9.900.

Bryant: FHS pike half, good height and distance. Small hop backwards. Should easily drop Arenas’ 9.775. Score is 9.925.

Davis: Her handstands have been picture perfect throughout. No leg separations, but a small side step on the landing! Thought maybe she could get her 10.0 here with the history of the PMAC, but not today. Still a beautiful routine! 9.850

AFTER ONE: Oklahoma – 49.400, LSU – 49.325

Overall, a clean rotation for both teams! The Sooners had a couple sticks but only two scores 9.900 plus or higher. They will want to improve on that in the next rotation. As for the Tigers, Chase Brock upgrading that vault to a 1.5 will help absorb the loss of Kiya Johnson as long as she continues to keep it clean.

ROTATION 2: OU Vault, LSU Bars

Stern: Yurchenko 1.5, good height and distance, hop forward on the landing. 9.850.

Jeffrey: Mount on low bar, Maloney is clean, Pak Salto looked caught a little close, nice final handstand, GOOD height on the dismount with a hop back. 9.800.

Torrez: Vault debut for Torrez! Yurchenko 1.5, STUCK! Looked a little sideways, so likely won’t be a 10 but what a first vault! 9.875.

Arenas: mount on high bar, Tkatchev to immediate Pak, legs straddled on that Pak salto, double layout dismount with sliiiiight leg separation. But a really good routine! 9.875.

Sievers: Yurchenko 1.5, little close to the white lines with a step forward.

Tatum: Career debut alert!! Short on the first handstand, but beautiful height on the Tkatchev. Leg separation on the Pak salto, short on final handstand, half in-half out dismount, step on the landing. 9.875!

Bowers: Yurchenko 1.5, good height, hop forward on the landing. 9.875

Finnegan: beautiful first handstand, Deltchev was clean, put the second handstand right on top of the bar, dismount is clean. Easily the best routine of the rotation so far. 9.925.

Levasseur: Yurchenko 1.5, clean with a college stick. She stopped herself going forward any more, but it was definitely clean! 9.925.

Shchennikova: short on the first handstand, no leg separations on her transitions, final handstand looks clean, her usual double layout, took a step forward out of it. 9.875.

Davis: Yurchenko 1.5, step backwards so she had some underrotation, but good on the Sooners for going for six 10.0 starts! 9.800.

Bryant: Straddled jaeger, overcooked that second handstand, but saved it. Final handstand is clean, double front half dismount is stuck. 9.900.

AFTER TWO: Oklahoma 98.825, LSU 98.775

LSU is keeping this close! Neither team has really dialed in on landings so far, making this closer than some might have believed originally. 0.050 separates these two at the half, let’s see where the second half takes us!

ROTATION 3: LSU Beam, OU Floor

Rivers: BHS LOSO series, straight on the beam. switch half not quite 180 degrees so that should be deducted. Better on the switch half + straddle quarter series, but still not perfect. Round off double twist dismount, step on the landing. 9.800

LOL the judge’s helper forgot to bring her the flag so she had to run across the PMAC to get it, gotta love it.

B. Johnson: Front Layout to front 1.5 first pass was clean. Her music is Harry Styles infused, so I’m already a fan. Switch half to wolf full leap series with a clean toe point. Final pass is double tuck with a controlled step. Good leadoff for the Sooners! 9.875.

Ballard: Ballard’s beam debut in competition! BHS LOSO, had to save that layout, but she kept it on. Sissone to switch half, could’ve used a little more height on the switch half. Front toss is spot on. Round off 1.5 twist dismount with a step back. Not a bad routine for her very first beam! 9.825

Sievers: Full in first pass, clean. She has a lot of personality performing this routine. Final pass is front tuck through to a double tuck, step forward so that’ll be a slight deduction for the underrotation. Switch side to Popa series, maybe slightly under 180? Overall a good routine! 9.875.

KJ Johnson: handstand press mount, relatively clean. Switch leap to straddle quarter is clean, BHS LOSO with a very small balance check. Side aerial to sissone, didn’t quite looked connected, so she could lose connection bonus on that. 9.750. Sounds about right considering the pause between skills.

Fletcher: Triple twist first pass, little sideways on the landing. Front layout to front full second pass, good toe point on the leaps. Final pass is a 2.5 twist. Such a nice floor routine! 9.850.

Arenas: Very clean on the first set of leaps. BHS LOSO straight on the beam. You wouldn’t know that she’s not a regular by watching this. Front toss is clean, lost some toe point on the switch half. Round off 1.5 dismount STUCK! 9.875.

R. Smith: Double tuck first pass, stepped on the line. Second pass was a 1.5 to front layout with a step. Leaps were clean, double pike, little low on height, but kept it on her feet. 9.925.

Bryant: Front aerial to BHS series is clean. Switch leap to straddle quarter, beautiful height. Standing front is right on the money, good 180 on the split jump. Dismount is 1.5 twist with a slide back. 9.950.

Torrez: Double layout with beautiful height! Leaps were very nicely done with great toe point. Front tuck through to double tuck, large step backwards and out of bounds. Shame because she had such a good routine going up until that point. 9.750.

Finnegan: BHS LO LOSO series is perfectly on the beam. Balance check, so there will be a lower score they will have to count. Gainer full with a lean to the side dismount. 9.775.

Bowers: Looking to drop Torrez’s score here. Double pike first pass is clean. She’s got so much intensity on her face when she performs and she is IN to it. FHS front double twist to front tuck last pass. It’s clean, meaning Torrez’s score will be dropped. 9.925.

AFTER THREE: Oklahoma 148.275, LSU 148.000

Oklahoma is on pace for the win here after going 49.400 plus in their first three rotations. LSU having to count a 9.775 from Finnegan hurt a little bit, but one of their strongest events is coming up so let’s see if they can narrow the gap to get a good final total.

ROTATION 4: OU Beam, LSU Floor

Dunn: BHS LOSO LOSO is clean. split jump to split half, right at 180. Gainer full dismount is clean. Always reliable as the leadoff. 9.875.

Ballard: Double layout first pass is clean. I said this last week, but I love her personality on floor. 1.5 to front layout to stag jump is hit. switch ring to switch half to one knee, could’ve used a little more split if i’m picky. Double pike last pass is clean. Ballard is HYPE! 9.900.

Siegfeldt: BHS LOSO, has a balance check (leg went up). Cat leap to front aerial gets her back on track. Beat jump to split ring is clean, BHS to gainer full stick. Besides the balance check, it was a nice routine for the reigning specialist of the week. 9.750.

Shchennikova: FHS front double full arabesque, might’ve lost a little toe point but it’s hard to tell with how quick she is. 1.5 to a very floaty front layout gets a a huge roar from the crowd. Final pass is FHS to Rudi to split jump, more controlled than her usual. Overall a solid routine for the senior. 9.925.

Bowers: BHS LOSO is solid. Sissone to switch half is clean, her beam choreography is full of confidence and I am here for it. Round off double twist dismount is clean. Definitely good for her to stay consistent after a history of not being so. 9.950.

Brock: Floor career debut for Brock. Double pike first pass, little unsure of herself on the landing but kept it in. Double tuck second pass, small hop forward. Leaps were over 180 from my angle. Sits the final pass, didn’t quite get enough punch on the combination skills to keep it on her feet. Once she gets consistent with it, that could be a good routine! 9.150.

Davis: BHS LOSO with a slight lean to the side. Sissone to front aerial is clean as is her second leap series – beat jump to split ring jump. Round off double twist dismount is landed. 9.800. Mmmm…that’s slightly less than what I was expecting.

KJ Johnson: Time for her to put some momentum back into this floor lineup. Full-in is landed but a step out of bounds that will count. Back 1.5 to front layout is better controlled landing wise. Switch side to Popa, good split position. Final pass is double tuck, best landing of the three. Not quite what the Tigers wanted, but they’ll take it. 9.775.

Torrez: Wolf jump is clean, slight wobble on the choreography afterwards. BHS LOSO is clean, but another little wobble. Just showing a little bit of nerves here. Switch leap to switch half with another small wobble. Round off double tuck dismount with a small step back. 9.850.

Finnegan: Double arabian to stag jump is nailed! 2.5 twist to front tuck is very controlled. Switch ring to tour jete half leap series is clean. Back 1.5 to front layout is clean with the front layout stuck. That’s a pretty good comeback routine after a low score Friday night. 9.950 ties her career high.

R. Smith: BHS LOSO is clean, Front aerial with the tiniest wobble – barely noticeable. Straddle half to BHS swingdown. The Taylor Swift is appealing to my soul so there’s that. BHS gainer full dismount with maybe the tiniest step back. 9.850.

Bryant: FHS double front opening pass is clean but a large looking step. Better and more controlled landing on the second pass. FHS front double full for the last pass, tried to cover the larger step by dancing out of it. Overall a clean routine after a rough ending to Friday night’s floor rotation. 9.900.

AFTER FOUR: Oklahoma 197.600, LSU 197.450

A season high for the Tigers, but they will drop to 0-3 on the season as Oklahoma moves up to 4-0. The Sooners will be glad to get the victory in a difficult PMAC environment, but landings will need to be a priority for both teams moving into this week in training!

Vault: Haleigh Bryant (LSU) & Katherine Levasseur (OU) – 9.925

Uneven Bars: Ragan Smith (OU) – 9.950

Balance Beam: Haleigh Bryant (LSU) & Jordan Bowers (OU) – 9.950

Floor Exercise: Aleah Finnegan (LSU) – 9.950

AA: Haleigh Bryant (LSU) – 39.675

READ THIS NEXT: It Takes a Village—and a Lot of Heart—to Put on a Meet in the PMAC

Live blog by Savanna Whitten

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