As she ended her floor exercise routine in the middle of the mat Friday night, LSU gymnast Lloimincia Hall looked at the ceiling of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and thrust her right index finger into the air.
Indeed, Hall found the perfect way to cap LSU’s first meet as the nation’s No. 1 team — which the Tigers achieved on Monday morning in the GymInfo rankings.
LSU had already broken the school record of 197.875 when Rheagan Courville posted a 9.950 just before Hall stepped onto the mat, so the only thing that was left was to put the Tigers over the 198.000 mark for the first time in program history.
Needing just a 9.925 to hit that mark, Hall threw up a 9.975 for good measure — capping another school record of 49.700 on floor — as a crowd of 7,018 erupted.
With Kaleigh Dickson, Ashleigh Gnat and Jessie Jordan scoring 9.25s at the top of the lineup, LSU was able to throw out Jessica Savona’s nice 9.90 when Courville, the nation’s No. 1 all-arounder, and Hall were finished. LSU finished with a 198.050 to Missouri’s 194.825.
The school-record mark, which LSU set on Feb. 15 in the Metroplex Challenge, ensured that the Tigers will still be No.1 when the new rankings come out Monday with a 197.605 regional qualifying score (RQS).
“I knew Lloimincia had to have to get us at that 198 mark, and we we knew what she was capable of,” said LSU coach D-D Breaux. “It was just a matter of her doing what she usually does. She just did a great job.”
LSU (8-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) was able to do that despite an uncharacteristic fall from the beam by Courville, who’s ranked second nationally in that event. Her score of 9.40 did not count toward LSU’s total.
“That’s what it means to have a team behind you,” Courville said. “You don’t have to be perfect to achieve what you want as a team because it takes lots of people to do what we do. That showed that one mistake won’t really hurt us.”
“It was a really fun night,” said Jordan, who scored a 39.600 to win the all-around title over Dickson’s 39.475. “It’s just pure bliss. … In my freshman year, we were aiming for 196 or 197 and to be in this position is an amazing feeling.”
LSU got started quickly as the Tigers posted a vault score of 49.575, which tied their second-highest vault score of the season. It was just off the 49.600 they put up in a win at Oklahoma on Feb. 9.
LSU counted five scores between 9.90 and 9.925.
Dickson led off with a season-high score of 9.925 — the first of three for the Tigers as Jordan and Sarie Morrison followed with 9.925s as well.
Hall and Courville each had a 9.90 to complete the 49.575, while Missouri was scoring a 48.950 on the uneven bars.
LSU extended its lead at the halfway point of the meet with a 49.500 on bars, pushing the lead to 99.075-97.450.
Morrison threw up another 9.925 to share the event title with Courville, while Jordan had a 9.90.
Despite Courville’s miscue on beam, Hall and Gnat picked up the slack by posting scores of 9.875 and LSU wound up with a 49.275.
That gave LSU a score of 148.350 through three rotations, leaving the Tigers just 49.525 from tying the school record or a 49.550 from breaking the mark of 197.875.
LSU already had a 49.550 against Alabama on Jan. 31 and had posted three scores between 49.500 and 49.550 this season, so the school mark was definitely there for the taking.
And take they did.
“It’s amazing to know that all of our hard work has paid off,” Courville said of the school-record score. “We’ve been achieving goal after goal that we’ve set for ourselves and this was just really exciting for us. It was the main goal.”