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  • Writer's pictureRiley Grube

LSU Wins First NCAA Gymnastics Championship

The 2024 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships were held from April 18-20 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Eight teams advanced to the championships and were split into two semifinals. The semifinals also determined the individual NCAA champions. LSU, Cal, Utah, and Florida advanced from the semifinals to the final.


LSU made history by winning its first NCAA Gymnastics Championship. LSU was the runner-up in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019, and they were widely considered the best team that had never won the NCAA title. LSU became the eighth team in NCAA gymnastics history to win the title. Below is a summary of the NCAA Championships and how LSU finally won its first title.


LSU Gymnastics celebrating winning their first national championship. Photo from @LSUgym /Twitter


Semifinal 1

The first semifinal was the less eventful one, with the favored teams easily advancing. Arkansas made various mistakes throughout the competition, especially on the balance beam, that kept them far behind. Stanford, the only unseeded team to advance to the NCAA Championships, had a solid day, but ultimately, they could not catch LSU and Cal. Anna Robert’s stuck vault was the highlight of Stanford’s day, and she won the NCAA vault title with a score of 9.950.


LSU had the highest score across both semifinals- 198.1125. One major reason for this was Haleigh Bryant, who broke 9.900 on every single event to win the NCAA all-around title. The highlight of LSU’s meet, as usual, was floor exercise where they had the highest single-event total. Aleah Finnegan became the NCAA floor exercise champion with a score of 9.9625.


Cal finished in second place and advanced to the NCAA Championship finals for the first time in program history. Mya Lauzon was Cal’s star of the day, and she tied for third place on the balance beam and fourth place in the all-around.



Another highlight of the first semifinal was Arizona State’s Anaya Smith sticking her vault and tying for second place.


Semifinal 2

The very first routine of semifinal 2 was Oklahoma’s Faith Torrez falling on her vault. From that moment on, this semifinal was absolutely shocking and chaotic. Jordan Bowers and Kat LeVasseur both proceeded to nearly fall on their vaults, resulting in Oklahoma having their lowest vault score since 2008. With all these mistakes, it would be nearly impossible for Oklahoma to advance to the NCAA finals. This was shocking because Oklahoma was dominant for the entire regular season and was the clear favorite to win the title.


The second rotation continued the drama because Alabama had four falls on the balance beam. With that, Utah and Florida had to simply hit their routines to advance to the NCAA finals. Oklahoma started mounting a comeback on the uneven bars, and Audrey Davis tied for the NCAA title with a score of 9.9625. Oklahoma’s third event, the balance beam, seemed to be going well, and Davis and Faith Torrez both scored 9.9625 and tied for the event title. However, Kat LeVasseur and Ava Siegfeldt both fell off the beam, essentially putting the nail in the coffin.



Utah ultimately won the meet with a score of 197.9375, and Florida was not far behind with 197.8750. Both teams finished over one point ahead of Oklahoma and over two points ahead of Alabama. Florida’s Leanne Wong tied with Audrey Davis for the uneven bars title, and she tied with Oregon State’s Jade Carey as the all-around runner-up.


Championship

LSU started strong on its best event, floor exercise, and did not count a score below 9.9125. Another highlight of the first rotation was Cal’s eMjae Frazier scoring 9.950 on the balance beam. LSU led after the first rotation, but all four teams started with solid performances. LSU’s vault rotation was not as strong, but Haleigh Bryant led the competition with a 9.950. LSU had lost ground in the second rotation, but they were still in the lead.


In the third rotation, LSU delivered a solid performance on the uneven bars, but their highest score was only 9.900. This gave room for the other teams to pass them, and Utah took advantage of that. All six of Utah’s gymnasts scored above 9.900 on the floor exercise, and they were in the lead heading into the final rotation. However, LSU was only 0.0375 behind Utah, and Cal was still in it too. Mya Lauzon stuck her vault and scored 9.950, and Cal was only 0.150 out of first place after the third rotation. Unfortunately, Florida counted a miss on the balance beam which took them out of contention in such a close competition.


In the final rotation, Utah’s lead quickly evaporated because of a fall and a major landing error on their first two vaults. Cal also started with a major mistake on the uneven bars, but they were able to bounce back and not count anything lower than 9.8875. However, LSU dominated the final rotation on the balance beam. Sierra Ballard led LSU off with an impressive 9.950, but Savannah Schoenherr fell in the second spot. The rest of the lineup was able to maintain their composure, and Aleah Finnegan ultimately clinched the championship with a 9.950.



LSU won its first-ever NCAA gymnastics title with an impressive score of 198.225. Cal finished in second place with a total score of 197.850. This is Cal’s best finish in program history, and perhaps they will be inspired by LSU winning its first title to know that they could do it too. Utah finished in third place for the fourth year in a row, and Florida finished fourth.

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