2018 Freshmen – LSU

LSU has lost some vital routines since last season, losses that may make the squad more vulnerable to losing its grip on the #2 spot to the likes of Florida and company than it was in 2017. The Tigers are going to need a couple new bars and beam options and at least one new big score on vault and floor to mitigate the no-Gnat situation.  

LSU 2018 – Returning routines
Edney – 9.910
Hambrick – 9.905
Harrold – 9.890
Finnegan – 9.855
Priessman – 9.855
Kelley – 9.825
Cannamela – 9.820
Priessman – 9.925
Edney – 9.900
Hambrick – 9.885
Finnegan – 9.880
Harrold – 9.855
Finnegan – 9.945
Hambrick – 9.900
Macadaeg – 9.900
Edney – 9.875
Li – 9.755
Priessman – 9.525
Hambrick – 9.930
Kelley – 9.925
Edney – 9.870
Finnegan – 9.866
Harrold – 9.850
Priessman – 9.685
Kirby – 9.625

Still, the hope of increased contributions from some returning gymnasts like Priessman and Harrold, as well as a large freshman class of seven, has LSU optimistic about its chances of keeping pace with its previous form.

Christina Desiderio

The star of LSU’s newest flock is Desiderio, the Parkettes elite who turned senior in 2016 just in time to hoist herself into the Olympic-year camp group, proceeding to place 12th overall at Olympic Trials. Desiderio was originally slated to begin next season, but LSU had an open scholarship spot for this year, and Desiderio was able to make it work. She’s the baby of the class, having only recently turned 17.

Getting Desiderio to arrive this year is important for LSU because she’s the power gymnast of this class, the one best poised to provide a new 9.9 on floor to replace what has been lost.

Floor has always been Desiderio’s best event, a big-power piece with a double double and a ready-to-be-kept-for-NCAA double layout.

Lost among the big tumbling is that Desiderio can also hit leaps and split positions on floor exceptionally well. She’s doing difficult elements and hitting 180 on them. So far in LSU’s preseason intrasquad reports, we’ve only really heard about Desiderio on beam, but she will be a key to the floor lineup for years to come.

Beam is, however, the other major strength for Desiderio, where she is quite an aggressive and confident gymnast. That’s what stands out the most. She is not a timid beamer. With strong acrobatic elements and more-than-passable NCAA dance skills, she seems like a given for the beam lineup as well.

Desiderio competed a DTY for a number of years as a junior elite as well as a senior elite. It was never her best skill, especially as the years went on, but she’s powerful enough that I could see her providing a 1.5 in college. As the only one among the freshies who has competed a 10.0 start before, there will be some expectation that she can still do that. 

Bars is not Desiderio’s event and never has been. Now at the same time, she was a high-level elite and therefore has more than the necessary skills to make an NCAA routine. It’s not the cleanest, but she would compete for most schools. You could see LSU getting an Ashleigh Gnat routine out of her, for use as needed. Or, you could see them saying, “You don’t have to do bars anymore,” and Desiderio saying, “That’s the best news I’ve ever heard. The sun shines once more.”

Sami Durante

The saga of Sami Durante finally saw her land at LSU instead of Georgia after, you know, Georgia fired her mom. Because otherwise that would have been…a li’l awkward. (You know that thing where LSU visits Georgia on February 23rd this season, and Danna definitely isn’t going to come to that meet, but you really want her to, dressed in full LSU garb? I would enjoy that.)

Durante can provide routines on multiple events, but her biggest potential contribution will be bars. She’s a quick and aggressive bars worker with excellent handstand capabilities, which is the golden goose of NCAA bars. With the right skill selection and a little cleaning up in the legs, bars should become a useful score for her.

Beam can also be in the mix, Durante showing sufficient execution and skills to contend for a spot. It’s not going to be easy to get into that beam six with four definites returning to the lineup along with Desiderio, who needs to be in there. There’s going to be a ton of competition for that lineup, but Durante can at least be on the edges of the conversation.

The power events seem less likely. Durante did have a full-in on floor when she was trying to qualify elite, though it was not the most comfortable skill for her and floor has never really been one of her better-scoring events. The same can be said for her Yurchenko full on vault. It’s something, but it’s not the top of the list for her contributions.

Reagan Campbell

I’m speaking blindly to some extent about Reagan (not Rheagan) Campbell (not Courville) as I haven’t seen anything from her since 2014. She did finish 5th at JOs in 2016 and probably isn’t just here because her name is similar to Rheagan Courville’s. Maybe. We’ll see. You probably remember her from being the world’s tiniest elite in about 2010.

To me, Campbell always showed the most potential on beam, where she had solid leg positions and impressive leap amplitude, especially for a little one.  Add her to the long list of beam options.

Campbell also showed reasonable potential on bars in the toes and handstands, so I’d like to see what an NCAA routine looks like for her.

Vault and floor were never huge scores for Campbell, which is why I hesitate. LSU has the luxury of not using routines if they aren’t huge—or aren’t pristine in a Finnegan way—but her floor routine did continue to score well in JO in the intervening years.

Bridget Dean

Don’t forget about the ever-injured Bridget Dean, who made a smattering of elite appearances from 2010-2013 here and there and finished 8th AA at JO nationals in 2015, her last appearance in a major meet.

We’ve seen bits of Dean on beam so far in the preseason, so she’s another who will look to contend for the limited spots there. She’s performing a side aerial + layout stepout series this season, which is excellent difficulty, though leg form on the layout stepout from that one instance we’ve seen could keep her lower down the depth chart.

Here’s an old-tyme look at Dean’s full beam routine:

Dean also had reasonable amplitude on a full on vault back in the day. Looking at these other 2014 routines, she also displayed very solid line potential with the necessary skills on bars as well, and on floor, Dean was training a DLO last we heard from her.

So, she at least had the makings of the necessary skills and ability to contribute on four events. On the other hand, DD’s quote about the team’s last intrasquad was, “We have a great freshman class and Reagan Campbell, Sarah Edwards, Desiderio and Sami Durante are newcomers to watch.” K then.

Sarah Edwards

So Sarah Edwards, eh? Edwards is pretty much a total unknown but appears to be a vault specialist who has performed a solidly scoring full in JO in recent years with big air.

Depending on LSU’s need for fulls in the lineup, that could be an option.

Gracen Standley

I won’t leave out CGA’s Gracen Standley, a more well-known recruit than some of the others in this class but one I also worry could get lost in the mix of LSU’s depth.

Standley’s strongest scores have tended to come on bars, where she shows very usable skills like the Jaeger and the FTDT dismount. A believable option.

Standley’s best scores, by contrast, have not tended to come on beam, but I can see the ability there despite some tightness and form. I don’t think LSU needs this routine, but it exists.

Usually, Standley’s second-best score to bars has been floor, where she has a fine double pike, perfectly acceptable, but may just lack the bigness, like a few others in this class.

Standley also performs an OK full at times, some piking, but one that is not the most consistent either.

Olivia Gunter

Gunter is the local addition to the freshman class, the only Louisiana gymnast currently on LSU’s roster. We’re most likely looking at backup routines from her as well, but they would be realistic backups on floor and perhaps beam.

This floor routine has very solid JO-level tumbling and should be around as a usable option when needed.

6 thoughts on “2018 Freshmen – LSU”

  1. “You know that thing where LSU visits Georgia on February 23rd this season, and Danna definitely isn’t going to come to that meet, but you really want her to, dressed in full LSU garb? I would enjoy that.”

    Oh, I so want Danna to show up dressed in LSU garb, perhaps disguising herself with glasses and a moustache – it works for soap opera characters – sitting next to MLR cheering on their daughters. 🙂

      1. I can’t wait for how Bart and Kathy spin the fact Danna was “let go” from UGA and her daughter college-less until another former UGA head coach Jay Clark came to the poor girl’s rescue and brought her to LSU – bonus points if Sami Durante scores a 9.6755 on bars at the NCAA championship to “swing” the Tigers to their first title.

  2. Still not over Gnat graduating. I started following LSU because I love Gnat and Hambrick. Now Myia has her last year… Not ready 🙁

  3. I watched an interview with DD recently (I think one of those fb/insta live ones they do on a Friday afternoon) and I’m sure she said they had twelve beam routines this season. (and reading this I don’t think it was hyperbole!)

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