Top-ranked LSU gymnasts return home for Missouri

After three weekends away from home, a stretch in which they participated in four competitions, the LSU gymnastics team will finally get to compete in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center again Friday night.

The last time their fans got to see them on Jan. 31, the Tigers were powering their way to a 197.650-196.825 win against Alabama.

There will be something different about them this time around.

When LSU returns and takes the floor for a 7 p.m. Southeastern Conference matchup with Missouri, coach D-D Breaux’s squad will be welcomed back by its fans as the nation’s No. 1 team.

After competing in four states in a 15-day stretch and scoring between 197.225 and a school-record 197.875 — posting the second- through fourth-highest road scores in the nation so far this season — the Tigers were No. 1 when the GymInfo rankings were released Monday.

For the first time this season, the rankings were determined by a regional qualifying score that is determined by a team’s top six scores — of which three must be from road meets — with the highest being thrown out.

The remaining scores are then averaged to determine a team’s RQS, with LSU posting a school-record 197.470 to earn the nation’s top spot for the first time since March 14, 2005.

“In the words of Skip Bertman, consistency wins,” said Breaux, whose team has scored at least 197.000 in seven of eight meets. “Our consistency and our tenacious approach ... and how hard these kids compete is what earned them this honor.”

Now, with just three regular-season meets remaining before the postseason push begins at the SEC Championships on March 22, the Tigers will try to build on the foundation they’ve put down.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll feel any added pressure that some teams might experience from such a lofty ranking.

“I don’t think there will be any pressure because they know exactly how they did it,” Breaux said. “Now the challenge is for us to get better.”

LSU (7-3, 3-2 SEC) is coming off a tough loss at Florida. The reigning national champion posted a 198.125 to top the Tigers, who still put up a solid road score of 197.625.

“We went to Florida and got beat by a very, very good Florida team that won the national championship last year,” Breaux said. “The difference there were the little-bitty things.

“We have to eliminate the things that are keeping us from achieving bigger and better scores, and I know that we have the capability to do it,” she added. “We worked hard in the gym this week to correct the little mistakes, and we are excited to be back home.”

LSU enters the meet as the No. 1 team nationally on vault and floor — and the Tigers, for the first time in school history, have three gymnasts ranked No. 1 going into the matchup with Missouri (6-4, 0-3 SEC).

Rheagan Courville leads the nation in the all-around with a 39.595 RQS, Sarie Morrison tops uneven bars at 9.935 and Jessie Jordan is No. 1 on beam at 9.915.

Courville said she and her teammates are excited to be competing at home, especially with their newly minted No. 1 ranking.

“It’s been great to see that all of our hard work has been paying off and it’s all coming together before us,” Courville said. “Just being ranked No. 1 is great for our crowd to see that what we’ve been doing away has really been working.”