LSU gymnastics claims first-ever NCAA championship

FORT WORTH, TX — With one performance remaining, Aleah Finnegan delivered a 9.95 on beam to lift the LSU gymnastics team to the first NCAA Championship in program history Saturday afternoonat Dickies Arena.

The Tigers claimed the title with a 198.225 to defeat California (197.850), Utah (197.800) and Florida (197.4375). The win marked just the eighth program in NCAA history to win the championship. In the final rotation, the LSU beam team delivered on the biggest stage with a 49.7625 for the highest in program history and an NCAA Championship record on the event. 

Down by .0375 to Utah going into the fourth rotation, LSU had to fend off a feverous comeback from Cal to secure the crown. Sierra Ballard set the tone in the final rotation with a 9.95. After a fall by Savannah Schoneherr the Tigers didn’t blink. Freshman Konnor McClain scored a 9.9625 and seniors Kiya Johnson and Haleigh Bryant each posted a 9.95. With a hit routine needed to seal the historic victory, Finnegan left no doubt with her 9.95. 

Bryant, the 2024 NCAA All-Around Champion cemented her legacy as one of the greatest gymnasts in history this weekend. In addition to her win on Thursday night, Bryant scored a 39.7125 in the all-around to win another title. 

LSU set the tone from the start with five scores of 9.90 or higher for a 49.6125 on floor, its highest score in a championship final in school history. The freshmen in McClain and Amari Drayton delivered with scores of 9.925 and 9.9125 to open. Aleah Finnegan scored a 9.9125 and Bryant and Johnson ended the rotation with a 9.9.9375 and 9.925 respectively. 

At the end of the second rotation, LSU led Utah by .100 after a 49.400 on vault. Drayton earned a 9.825 and Schoenherr followed with a 9.875. Finnegan scored a 9.8375 and Bryant and Kiya Johnson anchored with a 9.9125 and 9.95 respectively. 

The Tigers held steady after three rotations but dropped to second behind Utah by a slim margin. Alexis Jeffrey opened the event with a 9.90 and Ashley Cowan put up a 9.8875 in the second spot. Kiya Johnson delivered a 9.8875 and McClain added a 9.90. Schoenherr delivered a 9.8625 and Bryant anchored with a 9.875.

The win marked the 52nd in the history of LSU Athletics. It comes on the cusp of both the LSU baseball and women’s basketball teams capturing NCAA titles in the last calendar year. 

LSU Gymnastics will host a welcome event for the NCAA Champions at 12:30 p.m. CT Sunday at the Gymnastics Training Facility. A celebration will be announced later this weekend.

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