Every collegiate gymnast will tell you that the NCAA season is a marathon, not a sprint, and on Friday night inside a packed Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, LSU found that second wind they had been so desperately hoping for.

After back-to-back deflating and emotional SEC conference losses to Auburn on the road and rival Florida last weekend at home, the fifth-ranked Tigers finally found the perfect combination of passion, energy, and focus to gain their second win of the 2019 season in a much-needed rivalry meet against number nine Alabama. Led by dynamic all-rounder leaders Sarah Finnegan and Kennedi Edney, LSU defeated the Crimson Tide with a season-high 197.450 to Alabama’s 196.850, a resounding road win.

Beginning on the uneven bars in rotation one, LSU saw performances from their final three athletes in the lineup, with junior Edney posting a big 9.900 and senior stars Lexie Priessman and Finnegan anchoring with 9.875s for both. For Alabama, the Tide struggled with form on some of their vaults, despite solid landings throughout. The highlight of the rotation came from freshman and recently-crowned World vault silver medalist Shallon Olsen of Canada nailing her powerful Yurchenko double full for a strong 9.900 in the anchor spot.

Trailing the Tigers after one rotation, the Tide fought back on the bars, where Shea Mahoney‘s beautiful work earned a 9.950 and former elite and US National Team member Emily Gaskins anchored with a 9.825. On the vault, LSU put together their best vaulting rotation of the season so far, with Edney and Ruby Harrold sticking their big Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs for 9.925s and 9.900s, respectively. Finnegan and Julianna Cannamela also earned 9.875s on their cleanly-executed Yurchenko fulls.

Reagan Campbell competes on the balance beam for the LSU Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Alabama/LSU Sports

In the third rotation, both teams continued raising their levels, with Alabama putting together a very solid beam rotation thanks to beautiful routines from Wynter Childers for a 9.925 and Gaskins for a 9.875. On the floor exercise, LSU recovered from a mid-lineup miss from Christina Desiderio, with Edney and McKenna Kelley‘s 9.875s and Finnegan’s 9.950 keeping the Tigers on pace for a big road score heading into the final rotation.

Looking to close the meet out on the balance beam, LSU’s first three competitors all posted solid scores of 9.800 or higher, setting up their final three for potentially big scores. Sophomore Reagan Campbell showed beautiful execution for a 9.875, with Edney and Finnegan helping secure the win for the Tigers with 9.925s, and ensuring they would tie for the all-around title in Tuscaloosa. On the floor, Alabama put on a show for their home fans, with Abby Armbrecht showing a lovely routine for a 9.925 while Maddie Desch and Olsen scores 9.850s for the Tide.

Next week, LSU will be at home again in the PMAC hosting NC State, while Alabama will travel to Columbia for another conference matchup against Missouri in week five.

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