LSU gymnastics team prepares to take on Georgia

In years past, a score of 195 or 196 in a season-opening meet would have been enough to satisfy long-time LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux.

“We (coaches) would have said, ‘OK, that’s a great starting point,’ ” Breaux said Thursday.

As far as Breaux is concerned, that’s a thing of the past.

Coming off a third Super Six appearance in six seasons, the Tigers set the bar a lot higher in last week’s season opener against Centenary — which she hopes carries over into Friday night’s Southeastern Conference opener with perennial national power Georgia in Athens.

The Tigers scored a 197.200 — more than a point higher than the school’s previous season-opening score of 196.075 in their 2013 debut — to rout Centenary.

It wasn’t a surprise to Breaux, who began her 37th season with the second-highest score recorded in the country so far this young season.

“After last season, and with this team we put together, the expectations should be higher — and the kids met our expectations,” she said. “They were ready and very focused. It was a great home opener.”

Now comes a much bigger challenge on the road for No. 2 LSU (1-0) against a ninth-ranked Georgia (0-2) team that rarely loses at home.

But the record isn’t reflective of what Georgia did on opening weekend.

The GymDogs lost at Oklahoma on Friday night, then headed west to face Stanford on Sunday. But they posted respectable scores of 196.500 and 196.150.

Still, Breaux knows what her latest team is capable of, regardless of where it competes, because of a balanced mix of upperclassmen with some talented sophomores and freshmen.

“You look at where we are, where we’re ranked, and how we performed,” she said. “Anyone that wants to be ranked higher has to go through us. We went out last week in front of a big crowd at home and put our game face on and kept our focus.

“We’re going to compete to win and maintain the status we’ve built over the last few years.”

Breaux was pleased with her team’s consistency against Centenary, which helped LSU vault three spots from its No. 5 preseason ranking.

“I’ve said all along consistency wins,” she said. “I told our athletes it’s not about the competition here. It’s how we measure up against Oklahoma and UCLA (throughout the season). If we’re consistent, we’ll be able to maintain our status as a national contender.”

LSU ranks second nationally on vault with a 49.425. The Tigers are third on beam and floor with scores of 49.250 and 49.400, respectively, and 10th on bars at 49.125.

Juniors Rheagan Courville and Jessie Jordan rank first and third in the nation, respectively, in the all-around. They’re the first LSU duo in the top five since Ashleigh Clare-Kearney and Susan Jackson in 2009.

Senior Sarie Morrison, who ranks third nationally on bars and fourth on vault, was the SEC Event Specialist of the Week after scoring a pair of 9.925s to win both events in the opener.

Senior Kaleigh Dickson (vault) and junior Lloimincia Hall (beam, floor) are other key contributors along with freshman Ashleigh Gnat (vault, beam, floor).

“We’ve got a lot of youthful enthusiasm on this entire team,” Breaux said. “Sometimes when you have an upperclass team, it’s kind of like business as usual. But we need the enthusiasm. ... We need the kids to have a good time and relax and have fun.”