Haleigh Bryant, LSU, SECs 2023

LIVE BLOG: No. 7 Arkansas at No. 5 LSU

I have a feeling this matchup is about to be so much juicier than it has been in recent seasons. Arkansas is on a meteoric rise so far in 2024, coming off a tie with Alabama with a program record team score and a win over Auburn. The Razorbacks look sharp and ready to put up a fight against LSU in the PMAC. The team has increased difficulty and an air of confidence about it that seems to be propelling it to new heights. Keep an eye out for Maddie Jones. She just keeps adding events to her repertoire, getting better and better each time she steps on the floor. My guess is that if Arkansas is doing well at the halfway point, the Razorbacks very well could come out with the win here. 

That’s not to discount the fighting Tigers. LSU is returning home after its close loss to Mizzou last weekend. Once again, beam was the team’s nemesis, leaving it unable to contend with the stellar Missouri floor team. No doubt this will light a fire under the Tigers to continue to climb. Kiya Johnson is doing some of the best gymnastics of her career, while Haleigh Bryant continues making the most difficult skills look like a walk in the park. While Aleah Finnegan had some hiccups last weekend, her track record implies that’s unlikely to happen again at home. 

Needless to say, this is going to be a close matchup between two evenly matched teams. May the best gymnastics tonight win. 

Rotation 1: LSU VT, Arkansas UB

KJ Johnson (LSU): Yurchenko full, great height. Lines amazing and flared out. Looked stuck to me. Great opening routine. 9.875

Swaney (Ark): Toe hand, Ray, great turnover. Pak. Little late on the turn on low bar. Double layout, medium hop back. 9.725

They’re asking for tools for the vault table? That’s concerning. Coach Griffeth is in conversation with the head judge. Will keep y’all updated. Jay is supervising the screwing and unscrewing. Don’t worry. We’ll be on track shortly.

Finnegan (LSU): Yurchenko half on, front pike off. A small step forward. Great height, some soft knees in the air. 9.875

Pratt (Ark): Ray, a touch close. Overshoot, toe up to high. A little quick on the last HS. Double layout. DRILLED it. Great shaping on the dismount. 9.850

Drayton (LSU): Yurchenko full and and a half. Great pop off the table, spotted the landing with a baby step forward. 9.900

Drotar (Ark): Toe hand, Maloney, overshoot right to handstand. Great lines and extension. Toe point is amazing. Double layout, didn’t quite whip it around at the end. A hop forward. 9.775

Schoenherr (LSU): Yurchenko one and a half. Soft knees in the air. A hop back to manage. 9.800

Scalzo (Ark): Blind, Jaeger, so close but still let go for the overshoot. She took that one straight to the ribs. Ouch. Double layout was so pretty with a scooch back. 9.000

Kiya Johnson (LSU): Yurchenko double full. One of her more dynamic ones of late. A little pike down which led to a hop back. 9.900

Park (Ark): Loving the white eyeliner! Mostly commenting on this because a judging conference is commencing so we’re getting extra time with no gymnastics and a close zoom on the camera. Let’s see how the freshman handles the delay. Toe hand, Ray. Great. Short HS. Pak. Good turn on low. Right up on the last HS. Double layout with a baby hop forward. Way to turn it around after the fall with a hit. 9.775

Bryant (LSU): 66 career event titles is CRAZY. College stick on the FHS front pike half this week. Obviously great in the air. A 2023 10.000, but we shall see. 9.975

Jones (Ark): Blind, piked Jaeger. Just missed. The commentator jinx. So Arkansas will be counting a fall here. Back in it. Pak. So pretty. A little late on the turn on low. Double layout with a step back. 9.050

Brock (LSU ex): Love seeing her back. A Yurchenko full. Good line off the table. Nearly a stick, A couple little adjustments of the feet.

Linton (Ark ex): Deep breath. Toe hand, Maloney, pak. A little whippy. Double layout is stuck. Legs kind of gave on the landing, but managed.

AFTER ONE: LSU 49.525, Arkansas 48.175

Welp. LSU matched its season high on vault and Arkansas was forced to count a fall, scoring the first sub 49 event total on the year. Scoring in general seems tight on bars, so we’ll see how the rest of this meet unfolds.

Rotation 2: Arkansas VT, LSU UB

Weaver (Ark): Yurchenko full, a little leg separation on the table. Good block. A hop back. 9.800

Jeffrey (LSU): Maloney, overshoot to hand. Handstands right on top. FTDT, leg looked a little hyperextended. A step back.

Park (Ark): Yurchenko full. Great line off the table. A baby hop back. 9.825

Cowan (LSU): A little over on the first HS. Ray to overshoot. She’s is going for these handstands. Double layout, a medium step back.

Smith (Ark): Yurchenko full. Quick off the table. Thought she had the stick, but couldn’t quite hold onto it. A step forward.

Jay Clark going for win 100.

Kiya Johnson (LSU): Maloney, overshoot hand. Some bent arms on the back swing. Toe hand. Double layout. Stuck COLD. I did love that landing. The foam crown LSU is sporting this week is something to behold. 9.900

Price (Ark): A hop in place, chest right up on her Yurchenko full.

McClain (LSU): Is that a purple braid? Piked ray, pak salto. Looked like the release wanted to be close but she pushed right away. FTDT. A baby foot adjustment. 9.925

Essenpries (Ark): Yurchenko one and a half. Great seeing that upgrade in the vault lineup. Great power, but overcooked some. A step forward. Great debut for the freshman.

Schoenherr (LSU): Toe blind, straddle Jaeger. Toe hand, overshoot. Loose on the catch. Blind, double front half is ON THE MONEY. Great finish. 9.950

Williams (Ark): Yurchenko one and a half is so close to stuck that it hurts. Just a milisecond longer on the hold and she had it. Great technique. 9.875

Bryant (LSU): Blind, Jaeger. Overshoot hand. Blind, double front half. A step back. Technique was great throughout that routine as expected. 9.900

Klein (Ark ex): Yurchenko one and a half. Honestly great. A step forward. Arkansas is coming for our necks with these upgrades.

Dunne (LSU ex): What we’ve all been waiting for! Tkatchev to pak. Little late on the turn on low. Double layout. Knees gave a touch. Great set for her. Commentators, let her have her moment. I’m happy her bf was the number one draft pick, though. It’s giving Taylor Swift at the Chiefs games.

Drayton (LSU ex): Blind, Jaeger. Great distance. Pak. Floaty. Toe blind full, giant to double tuck. The dismount was wonky, but otherwise good set. I’m assuming the blind was supposed to be connected to the double tuck for up to level purposes.

AFTER TWO: LSU 99.075, Arkansas 97.375

Okay. I take back what I said about tight scoring on bars. I’m mostly confused, honestly. The upgrades for Arkansas were great to see.

Rotation 3: LSU BB, Arkansas FX

Ballard (LSU): BHS LOSO back to the lunge. Strong. Sissone, switch half. Right around. Looking confident. Front toss. My heels hurt watching that, but no wobbles here. Back 1.5 dismount is STUCK. Great lead off routine. 9.900

Klein (Ark): Front lay through to double tuck. Switch side, popa, shushinova. Double pike, overdone. Apparently went out of bounds. The PMAC floor claims another victim. Great routine other than the loss of control on the double pike. 9.600. Oof.

Jeffrey (LSU): Wolf turn to open. Cat leap, switch side. A lean forward. BHS LOSO. Front tuck. A little deep in the squat, but managed perfectly. Back 1.5. Another stick. The leap was definitely the biggest deduction there. 9.875

Park (Ark): FTDT, some interesting leg positions in the air, great landing. Chest right up. Double tuck. Little slide in the lunge. Switch half, popa. Pretty toe point in the leaps. Back 1.5 to front lay. Good finish. This freshman is a great competitor. 9.850

McClain (LSU): This beam song. Switch leap, switch half. A little lean correction. Front aerial, BHS series. Lovely. Her wolf jump should be in the Louvre. A lean on the turn, plays it off. Side aerial. Gainer full is stuck. The ball is still running. 9.975

Jones (Ark): Front double full. Great. She has to have one of the best in the country. Switch ring, switch half. Back 1.5, front layout. Dances right out. Rudi to finish. Chest right up on the landing. Great routine. 9.900

Kiya Johnson (LSU): An adjustment on the turn. BHS LOSO. Lean. Held onto it. Switch leap, switch leap. Better extension. Front toss. Right on. This camera angle is TOO close. RO double full to finish. Small hop back. 9.900

Smith (Ark): Front lay through to double tuck. A hop forward instead of a lunge. Switch side, popa. Great amplitude. A shimmy shake. Loving the facial expressions. Double pike. Opened up right on time. Yes ma’am. Killed it. 9.800. Haters…

Bryant (LSU): Front aerial, BHS. Stunning. Switch leap, straddle 1/4. Standing front tuck with a leannn. Split jump. Punch Rudi is stuck. 9.950 is wild, but okay.

Williams (Ark): FTDT. Great. Right to the lunge. Dynamic off the floor. Back 1.5, front lay. Keeping it moving. Switch side, popa. Go Hogs go. A worm. Why not? Double tuck. Managed superbly. Such a fun routine. 9.925

Finnegan (LSU): BHS LOSO LOSO. She desperately did not want to fall on that. Huge leg up wobble, but snapped it back down so quick. Switch leap, split jump. Deep breaths. Front aerial. Back in it. Gainer full, stuck. Okay. This is out of hand.

Price (Ark): Double layout. A little under but pulled it around well. Switch side, popa, popa. Looked a little off on the timing, but you’d never know. Front full, front lay. Another great set for the Razorbacks. 9.900

Coen (LSU ex): Front aerial. Around the side. Fought for it. BHS LOSO. Great arms. Switch half, looked a bit rushed on the turn. Double full dismount a step back. Way to go for the freshman.

Buntin (Ark ex): Rudi LOSO. Right off the slant of the floor. Switch side, wolf 1.5. Bent knees on the wolf. Is that the Carlton? Back 1.5, front layout. Back on the heels a touch.

AFTER THREE: LSU 148.700, Arkansas 146.750

Okay. Easily a season high for LSU on beam. While there was a lot of great gymnastics, gifts were given. To me, this cheapens the feat. Arkansas did a great job of pulling it together after having an OOB in the first routine. Lauren Williams was definitely a highlight there.

Rotation 4: Arkansas BB, LSU FX 

When did swag surfing become the universal pre

Gamiao (Ark): LOSO LOSO series. So hard, makes it look simple. Switch leap, split. A little low on the front leg. Back on the heels on the dismount with a step back. 9.775

Dunne in for KJ Johnson.

McClain (LSU): “A lot of spice involved.” Double layout. Great extension and shaping in the air. Switch leap, switch leap full. Back 1.5 to front full. A little bouncy. 9.975

Jones (Ark): Front aerial, BHS BHS. Some foot form, but solid. Split, double stag ring. Great head release. Front full, deep with a hop back. 9.850

Drayton (LSU): Double layout. Wanted to slide that front foot, but held it. Front through to double tuck. Pulled it around. A wolf turn. Never my fav composition choice, but it was fine. Switch ring, switch half. Right to 180. 9.900

I’m realizing that we have no Ballard in this LSU lineup. I’m wondering if this is just a choice to rest her?

Swaney (Ark): Candle mount. Cat leap, front aerial, pulled the head forward and big hip bend wobble. BHS LOSO. Couldn’t hang onto that one. Switch leap, split jump. BHS back 1.5 dismount. Small foot adjustment. Welp. That’s the routine to drop. Pressure is on.

Dunne (LSU): Front through to double tuck. Chest up. Switch leap, switch half ring. Dynamic positions. Full turn with the front leg all the way up. Double pike. Solid. Strong routine for her. 9.875

Weaver (Ark): BHS LOSO. Straddle jump, double stag ring. Side aerial. She is ON, ladies and gents. Looking fierce. A small adjustment on the turn. Dismount is absolutely stuck. Wow. Ice in the veins.

Finnegan (LSU): Arabian double front. A pause before the stag leap out. Switch ring, tour jete half. Back 2.5 front tuck is stuck. Jaw on the floor. Way to come back from last meet. Killed it. 9.925

Linton (Ark): Wolf turn to start. BHS BHS LOSO. Front foot adjustment. Zoomed in on the leap so close that I couldn’t see it. Wooooooooo PIG SOUIE. Back 1.5 dismount with a scoot back. 9.925

Bryant (LSU): Double front. So easy. In the rafters. Switch leap, switch leap full. Front lay, Rudi. Just floated it down. 10.000

Park (Ark): BHS LOSO LOSO. A lean. Switch leap, split jump. Back leg a touch low. Arkansas trying to cheer over the sound of a Bryant 10.0. Nailed her side aerial 1.5 dismount. Stuck. 9.975. Did I love it? Yes. 10.0 from a judge? No.

Kiya Johnson (LSU): FTDT. Jeez. Held the lunge for emphasis. Back 1.5, front layout. LSUUUUU! Switch half, popa. Great amplitude on the leaps. Double pike. A huge smile.

Klein (Ark ex): Side aerial LOSO. A big break at the hip. Switch leap, straddle jump. Good shaping. Back 1.5 with a step forward.

Coen (LSU): Front layout, front double full. Back on her heels with a crossover step. Right to 180 on the leap pass. Back 2.5 twist to finish. A unique pass performed well.

Final: LSU 198.475, Arkansas 196.200

I genuinely did not think I was witnessing a program-best LSU performance, but the Tigers hit it out of the park in the last two events to bring things home. Arkansas started off slow and couldn’t quite recover. The Razorbacks will likely use this as fuel moving forward.

AA Winner: Haleigh Bryant (LSU), 39.825

VT Winner: Haleigh Bryant (LSU), 9.975

UB Winner: Savannah Schoenherr (LSU), 9.950

BB Winner: Konnor McClain (LSU) & Priscilla Park (Arkansas), 9.975

FX Winner: Haleigh Bryant (LSU), 10.000

READ THIS NEXT: The Impact of Foam Pits on Division III Gymnastics Teams

Live Blog by Tavia Smith

Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year! [wpedon id=”13158″]

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.