DULUTH, Ga. - Four members of the 11th-ranked LSU gymnastics team picked up All-America honors while the team posted the third-best score in school history at the NCAA Championships with a 196.550 to finish in sixth place in Semifinal I Friday afternoon in the Gwinnett Arena.
Freshman Rheagan Courville captured the all-around title in the session with a 39.475 and finished second on vault with a 9.925 to earn First-Team All-America honors. Three Tigers tallied Second-Team All-America honors. Ashley Lee recorded her second career honor on vault, scoring a 9.90 to finish in a tie for fifth. Sarie Morrison finished in a tie for sixth on bars with a 9.875 to earn All-America status, and Lloimincia Hall scored a 9.875 on floor to place fifth and become a Second-Team All-American.
Second-seeded UCLA won the semifinal with a 197.400, No. 7 Utah finished second at 197.200 and No. 10 Stanford placed third at 197.125. UCLA, Utah and Stanford advanced to the NCAA Super Six Finals to compete for the national title Saturday at 3 p.m. CT, and they will face Alabama, Florida and Arkansas who advanced from Semifinal II.
In Semifinal I, No. 3 Oklahoma finished fourth at 196.925, followed by No. 6 Nebraska at 196.625 and LSU at 196.550.
"I thought it was a tremendous team effort out there," head coach D-D Breaux said. "It was a great experience and good competition, and this team will walk away with a lot of lessons learned through the season as well as how to compete at the national championship level."
LSU (14-17) opened the meet on a bye and then moved to bars in the second rotation. With Jessie Jordan sidelined on bars with a minor injury, Britney Taylor not only saw her first action as a Tiger, but she made her first appearance as the leadoff performer on bars. Taylor turned in a solid effort with a 9.775 and set the tone for the rest of the lineup.
Mckenzie Fox followed Taylor with a 9.70, and Randi Lau earned a 9.75. After Hall suffered a fall and scored a 9.075, Courville and Morrison closed out the event in style by posting a 9.85 and 9.875, respectively. The Tigers finished bars with a 48.950.
LSU moved to beam and tied the best score the Tigers have ever earned in that event at the NCAA Championships, a 49.250 that the 2007 squad also posted in the semifinals. LSU was solid throughout the lineup as Ericka Garcia, Kaleigh Dickson, Hall, Courville and Jordan all scored a 9.85. The 9.85 was a new career high for Dickson and tied Garcia's best mark.
After sitting out the fourth rotation with a bye, LSU returned to post a 49.100 on floor in the fifth rotation. Competing for the final time in her career on floor, Lee shattered her career high with a 9.85. Lau followed with a 9.775 while Maliah Mathis scored a 9.75. Courville scored a 9.85, and Hall anchored with a 9.875.
LSU ended the meet with a solid 49.250 on vault. Lau led off with a 9.80, and Mathis scored a 9.75 in the second spot. Lee stuck her vault to score a 9.90, and Dickson earned a 9.85. Vaulting for only the second time all year, Morrison recorded a 9.775. Courville anchored and posted a 9.925 to clinch her spot in the NCAA Individual Event Finals on Sunday.
The 196.550 Friday marked the third-best team total for the Tigers at the NCAA Championships in school history, trailing only the 196.650 in 2004 and the 196.575 in 2008. The 196.575 in 2008 was good enough for LSU to qualify for the Super Six, and the 196.650 in '04 was good enough for fourth place in that semifinal.
With the five All-America honors earned by the Tigers on Friday, LSU upped its total to 111 honors in school history.
"This team has nothing to hang its head about," Breaux said. "When you leave nationals you want to leave with something, and these kids are leaving with their pride intact because they did a great job. I'm happy for our gymnasts who became All-Americans, but I am proud of this entire team for the way they competed."
While the season is over for the team, Courville will have one final performance at the individual event finals at noon CT Sunday. Courville has a chance to become the third NCAA Vault Champion for LSU, joining the likes of Susan Jackson (2008 champion) and Ashleigh Clare-Kearney (2009).
Links to live stats and ESPN3 video for event finals can be found at www.LSUsports.net. Fans can follow LSU gymnastics on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/lsugym and @LSUgym on Twitter to connect with the team.
2012 LSU ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Rheagan Courville - First-Team All-American (VT, AA)
Lloimincia Hall - Second-Team All-American (FX)
Ashley Lee - Second-Team All-American (VT)
Sarie Morrison - Second-Team All-American (UB)
1. UCLA 197.400 (VT - 49.275, UB - 49.450, BB - 49.325, FX - 49.350)
2. Utah 197.200 (VT - 49.525, UB - 49.225, BB - 49.175, FX - 49.275)
3. Stanford 197.125 (VT - 49.300, UB - 49.300, BB - 49.375, FX - 49.150)
4. Oklahoma 196.925 (VT - 49.125, UB - 49.225, BB - 49.325, FX - 49.250)
5. Nebraska 196.625 (VT - 49.225, UB - 49.150, BB - 49.000, FX - 49.250)
6. LSU 196.550 (VT - 49.250, UB - 48.950, BB - 49.250, FX - 49.100)
Individual (Includes first place and all LSU competitors)
Floor - t1. Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA) 9.90; t1. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (UCLA) 9.90; t1. Jessie DeZiel (Nebraska) 9.90; t1. Megan Ferguson (Oklahoma) 9.90; t5. Lloimincia Hall 9.875; t11. Ashley Lee 9.85; t11. Rheagan Courville 9.85; t34. Randi Lau 9.775; t36. Maliah Mathis 9.75; 39. Kaleigh Dickson 9.65