BATON ROUGE - For the 30th time in school history, LSU advanced to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships after winning the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional with a team score of 197.500 Saturday night inside the Maravich Center.
The Tigers won their 12th NCAA Regional in program history and the seventh in a row. The squad will compete at the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, April 19-20. LSU improved to 24-3 overall after posting the fourth-highest team score at an NCAA Regional in school history.
"What an exciting and hard-fought night of competition," LSU head coach D-D Breaux said. "This team did not give up and took every routine one at a time. We were dealt some real adversity this weekend and this team did not stop. I am proud of them and so happy to advance to NCAA Championships.
Utah finished second at the meet with a score of 197.250 to also advance to NCAA Championships. Minnesota and Auburn wrapped up the standings with scores of 196.900 and 195.725.
Seniors Sarah Finnegan, Lexie Priessman, McKenna Kelley and Julianna Cannamela competed for one final time in the Maravich Center with a crowd of 7,819 behind them for every routine.
Finnegan pushed her total individual tiles for a season to 45 to tie Sandra Smith and Susan Jackson for the school record. The Lee's Summit, Missouri, native won the all-around with a 39.600 and also finished first on beam with a 9.95. She tied April Burkholder for the most beam title in season with her 10th win.
One night after posting the highest regional score in program history, the No. 13 Auburn gymnastics team saw its season come to an end as the Tigers earned a 195.725 to finish fourth in the Regional Final at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
"I think we were out of gas," Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. "Emotionally spent. But I thought the girls fought hard. They did a great job. They didn't give up. We challenged them throughout the night, 'Get through this thing. Do the best you can.' I thought we finished the way we wanted to finish. It took us awhile to get started, and we started to find our rhythm on beam. We knocked it out the park a little bit on floor and sent the seniors off the right way."
It was fitting that senior Abby Milliet was the last Auburn gymnast to compete on the night as she closed out a strong floor rotation with a team-best 9.875. Milliet also led the team on bars with a 9.850 and added a 9.825 on beam in her last competition with the Tigers.
"I think we definitely fought all the way," Milliet said. "We felt the dip on bars, and you can take it one way or the other. You can let it keep going and just fizzle out or you can bring the fire back. And we definitely brought the fire."
It was another strong night for freshman Derrian Gobourne, who led the way in the all-around competition with a 39.200. Following her 9.950 on vault from Friday night, Gobourne will move on to the NCAA Championships where she will represent Auburn in the Individual Finals.