There was no doubt that the cream of the crop were rising to the top in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and at the conclusion of the three-day competition at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional it was hosts and third-ranked LSU and number six Utah finishing one-two at the super regional and advancing to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth. The Tigers won the competition with a strong 197.500 and the Utes finished second to join LSU in moving on to Texas with a 197.250.
For the Tigers, they took full advantage of their home crowd inside the raucous Pete Maravich Assembly Center, beginning on the balance beam where they put down a marker with a huge 49.500, including a 9.875 from sophomore Christina Desiderio, a 9.900 from Kennedi Edney, a 9.925 from Reagan Campbell, and a 9.950 from senior star Sarah Finnegan. LSU then moved to the floor exercise and extended their lead over the super regional field thanks to another 9.900 from Edney and a big 9.925 courtesy of senior McKenna Kelley.
LSU kept the momentum going on the vault, one of their signature events, bookending their lineup with leadoff Finnegan and anchor Edney’s 9.900s for their Yurchenko fulls and Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs, respectively. Ending their night on the uneven bars, the Tigers were led once again by Edney and Finnegan, posting scores of 9.875 and 9.950 to close out the competition and clinch LSU’s spot in Fort Worth at nationals.
The nine-time national champions Utah Utes began their competition on the floor exercise, an explosive event for the Red Rocks, with their dynamic duo of Makenna Merrell-Giles and MyKayla Skinner getting Utah started on the right foot with big scores of 9.900 and 9.950, respectively. Vault continued to be one of the Utes’ best events, where Kari Lee added a strong 9.875 on her Yurchenko one-and-a-half before Merrell-Giles and Skinner concluded the second rotation with 9.925s on Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs of their own.
Utah faced their first real adversity of the competition as their usually rock-solid star Skinner fell late in the lineup- her first fall on any routine in her three-year collegiate career so far- only scoring a low 9.175. Merrell-Giles responded with a crucial 9.900 to get the Utes back on track, including her incredibly unique Deltchev release move, and Missy Reinstadler– who has fought through injuries this season- added a 9.875 to keep Utah from having to count a fall. The Red Rocks concluded their meet showing some of their beautiful work on the beam, with Sydney Soloski, Merrell-Giles, and Skinner going 9.875 and Lee adding a 9.900 to earn Utah second place and another appearance at nationals.
The 11th-ranked Golden Gophers of Minnesota finished just behind the Utes in third place, not enough to make it back to nationals, but still good enough for a very solid 196.900. The Gophers saw Ona Loper anchor the vault lineup with a 9.900, Ivy Lu score a near-perfect 9.975, Tiarre Sales score 9.900 on the beam, and Paige Williams add a 9.900 on the floor onto the Gophers total. Minnesota’s team score wasn’t quite good enough to get back to nationals, but the Golden Gophers’ star all-arounder Lexy Ramler qualified to Fort Worth as an individual. Ramler scored 9.925s on bars and beam in the super regional competition and will be a threat to win an individual event title in Texas in two weeks’ time.
Following the gruesome, heart-breaking leg and knee injuries to Sam Cerio in Friday’s regional competition on floor, the Auburn Tigers fought hard to comeback for Saturday and contend in the super regional but couldn’t quite put it all together, finishing fourth with a 195.725. Despite failing to make it to nationals as a team, the Tigers qualified freshman phenom Derrian Gobourne as an individual on vault and also saw big scores during the super regional from Drew Watson with a 9.900 on vault and a 9.875 from senior Abby Milliet on the floor to close the competition for Auburn.Tags: 2019 NCAA Regionals, 2019 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, Abby Milliet, Auburn, Auburn Tigers, Baton Rouge Regional, Big 10, Big Ten, Christina Desiderio, Derrian Gobourne, Drew Watson, Ivy Lu, Kari Lee, Kennedi Edney, Lexy Ramler, LSU, LSU Tigers, MaKenna Merrell-Giles, McKenna Kelley, Minnesota, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Missy Reinstadler, MyKayla Skinner, NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, NCAA Gymnastics, NCAA Regionals, NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships, Ona Loper, Pac 12, Paige Williams, Reagan Campbell, Sam Cerio, Sarah Finnegan, SEC, Sydney Soloski, Tiarre Sales, Utah, Utah Utes