LSU gymnastics returned to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Friday night to host No. 22 Missouri for their final home meet. After uncharacteristically dropping three straight meets to No. 1 Florida, No. 6 Alabama and No. 14 Kentucky, LSU closed out the regular season with a 197.900-196.150 victory.
Haleigh Bryant has emerged as one of the top freshmen in the country. She secured the all-around title with a 39.600 score in her first collegiate meet with a 9.90 vault score before recording a 9.975 on floor against Arkansas on January 15. Bryant’s floor score was the highest by a freshman in their debut meet in LSU history and was named Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Week.
Bryant came into Friday’s meet ranked second on floor, eighth on vault and sixth all-around among the team. She continued her stellar freshman campaign against Missouri by opening the night with a 10.00 on vault, the first of her career. Bryant became the 11th gymnast in school history to record a perfect score in the event.
Bryant scored a 9.825 on bars and a 9.80 on beam She rounded out the night with a 9.95 on floor to finish with a career-high of 39.625 and shared the all-around title with sophomore Kiya Johnson. Bryant and Johnson recorded the only perfect scores of the meet as Johnson earned her second career 10 on floor.
“We came into this meet and just wanted to do our normal gymnastics,” Bryant said. “We do amazing gymnastics in the gym, and it showed tonight. I think we turned a lot of our nerves into excitement. That’s what we’ve been thinking of this whole week and I think it really paid off.”
A freshman from Huntersville, North Carolina, Bryant racked up four Junior Olympic National Championships out of Everest Gymnastics. Her accolades also include two all-around titles in the Nastia Liukin Cup and recorded the event’s first perfect vault score in history.
Friday night marked what was expected to be the final meet in the PMAC for LSU’s six seniors: Reagan Campbell, Bridget Dean, Christina Desiderio, Sami Durante, Sarah Edwards and Olivia Gunter. However, they were all granted an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic, should they elect to return.
“I am so proud of them,” Bryant said. “I love each and every one of them. They set the example in the gym every single day. They’re great leaders and great role models, and I really hope some of them come back. If not, I just wish them the best of luck in whatever life has in store for them.”
LSU will have two weeks to prepare for the SEC Championships in Huntsville, Alabama on March 20. LSU fell from No. 2 to No. 3 following their loss against Kentucky on Feb. 26, but likely reclaimed the second seed following Friday’s win.
“We don’t look too much at the rankings or scores,” Bryant said in Monday’s media session. “At the end at nationals, it’s going to be whoever comes out on top, and the rankings before don’t really matter. We have to go into nationals and do our best gymnastics. We just have to control what we can control and let the results happen.”