2020 LSU Tigers

  • Competed AA in every meet in 2019
  • #1 returning score on VT (9.910), UB (9.905), FX (9.925)
  • #2 returning score on BB (9.900)
  • Scored one 10.0 in 2019 (VT)
Ruby Harrold
  • Competed VT, UB, FX in every meet in 2019
  • #2 returning score on UB (9.880), FX (9.865)
  • #3 returning score on VT (9.870)
  • Hit 17 of 17 UB routines, 16 of 17 VT and FX routines
Reagan Campbell
  • Competed BB every meet in 2019
  • #1 returning score on BB (9.905)
  • Competed FX in 10 of 17 meets for 9.855 NQS
Bridget Dean
  • Debuted in lineups as sophomore in 2019
  • Competed BB every meet for 9.865 NQS
  • Competed backup UB as needed in 11 of 17 meets for 9.775 NQS
Christina Desiderio
  • Competed BB every meet in 2019 for 9.875 NQS (#3 returning score)
  • Competed FX in 13 of 17 meets for 9.845 NQS
Sami Durante
  • Competed 15 UBs and 14 BBs in 2019
  • #3 returning score on each (9.875 BB, 9.865 UB)
Sarah Edwards
  • Competed VT in 16 of 17 meets in 2019 for 9.875 (#2 returning score)
  • Provided 5 backup FXs as needed for 9.825 avg
Olivia Gunter
  • Did not compete in first 2 seasons
Rebecca D’Antonio
  • Did not compete in first season
Bailey Ferrer
Courtney Goodrich
  • Orlando Metro
  • 3rd FX, 2019 Region 8s
  • FX specialist
Kiya Johnson
  • Texas Dreams
  • 2018 & 2019 JO national champion
  • Stars-Houston
  • 8th FX, 2019 Region 3s
Kai Rivers

  • Gedderts
  • 2nd AA, 2019 JO Nationals
  • 2017 JO national champion & Nastia champion
Kamryn Ryan
  • Elmwood
  • 20th AA, 2019 JO Nationals (4th VT)
Alyona Shchennikova

  • 5280
  • 2017 US Classic champion
  • 9th AA, 2018 US Nationals
  • Currently recovered from Achilles tear, summer 2019
Caitlin Smith
  • Paramount
  • US junior elite 2013-2016
  • 34th AA, 2015 junior US Classic

2019 – 2nd
2018 – 4th
2017 – 2nd
2016 – 2nd
2015 – 10th
2014 – 3rd
2013 – 5th
2012 – 9th
2011 – 20th
2010 – 9th

2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd. The continuation of LSU’s eternal 2nd-place journey somewhat obscures the reality that finishing in 2nd in 2019 was an excellent result and an over-performance based on how the season had gone. LSU wasn’t supposed to finish as high as 2nd, but UCLA was sort of eh in the final (and Florida bombed regionals, which helped take a contender out of the way), and LSU snatched the opportunity.

So while 2019 will inevitably get filed away in the “sigh, LSU can never win a championship” folder, that was actually a really good finish for that team.

Sarah Finnegan – VT, UB, BB, FX
Lexie Priessman – VT, UB, FX
McKenna Kelley – VT, BB, FX
Julianna Cannamela – VT

There’s no way around how many important routines LSU has lost from last year’s departing, program-defining class—the class that never finished worse than 4th at nationals. Routine-wise, LSU has lost 9 of the 24 routines from the final 2019 lineups, including 6 of the 8 scores of 9.9 or greater the team recorded in the national championship. Let’s be honest, most of the best routines aren’t there anymore.

To get around the Kool-Aid-Man hole in the wall of these lineups, LSU has brought in a freshman class of seven that will see a lot of time. Of particular note, early-joiner Kiya Johnson will be an all-around star with the team’s best routine on a couple events, Alyona Shchennikova will be Alyona Shchennikova once healthy, and Kai Rivers should bring a couple huge events. On paper, the replacement routines should be there, but whether they actually come through is always a TBD story.

I will stand by 2nd-place being a good result for LSU in 2019, but it’s also true that the team will never be satisfied by any finish that isn’t a national championship.

The trail goes uphill in 2020 because of all those essential lost routines. LSU will enter the 2020 season as a favorite to advance to the national final but is going to project around a 3rd-4th place finish until we see whether those new routines have sufficiently made up for the departed scores. LSU has lost more than Oklahoma, UCLA, or Florida and therefore has the most work to do of those teams.


2019 Event Ranking: 4

Lineup locks: Kennedi Edney, Kiya Johnson, Sarah Edwards, Ruby Harrold
Lineup options: Kai Rivers, Kamryn Ryan, Alyona Shchennikova, Lexie Nibbs, Rebecca D’Antonio, Christina Desiderio

Vault is currently the most depleted event for LSU. All four of last year’s seniors brought competition-level vaults that ranked among the seven best that LSU had to choose from. That means the team returns just three definites in Edney, Edwards, and Harrold and badly needs to procure three additional lineup vaults from the vaultmonger.

Of those definites, Harrold did not compete VT/FX at LSU’s showcase yesterday because of a hip issue that’s not expected to be a thing, Edwards did her usual, and Edney performed one of the best vaults she has ever done.

So on to the quest for three new vaults. Kiya Johnson is obviously one of them with a possible DTY, and Kai Rivers will be expected to get in there as well. Rivers is too good at vaulting not to be in that lineup and has shown 10.0 options in past years. LSU will absolutely need Rivers this season because it becomes a bit harder to fill the lineup beyond those five. It’s as yet unclear whether Shchennikova will get back to lineup level on the leg events this season, and while Kamryn Ryan has a vault, we didn’t see her at all yesterday, with LSU filling out a group of five with 9.7ish backup fulls from Lexie Nibbs and Rebecca D’Antonio.

So watch out for that lineup because it’s still quite amorphous. There’s potential to keep pace with last year (especially because of Johnson) but work to do to fill out a competitive six. DD also mentioned that they’re finally hoping to get Desiderio vaulting in 2020, which could be a game-changer a la Kelley’s vault in 2019, but it has been so long since Desiderio vaulted that wary should be the watchword.


2019 Event Ranking: 4

Lineup locks: Kennedi Edney, Ruby Harrold, Kiya Johnson, Sami Durante, Kai Rivers
Lineup options: Alyona Shchennikova, Bridget Dean

(I’m putting Shchennikova in the options section solely because she still has to come back from a major injury, but she is already working bars. I am aware that she is Shchennikova.)

LSU will need to manage two major challenges on bars in 2020—the loss of the two very best routines in the lineup and the return of only four people who have ever competed bars before. Just that. Finnegans and Priessmans don’t grow on trees, so keeping bars at the same level will be a tough prospect and we can expect a little scoring loss in the 2020 season.

The plan will be that Shchennikova comes back to provide a late lineup score and that the introductions of Kiya Johnson’s very clean set and Kai Rivers’ packed one (I think I counted 8 tenths of bonus yesterday) will keep the lineup full of very countable scores. Put those three together with returning routines from Edney, Harrold, and Durante, and you’ve still got yourself an excellent six.

The bars lineup very much needs to stay healthy, however, because really the only other existing option is Bridget Dean (since Ferrer will miss 2020). The ideal lineup probably relegates her to backup status, but she should see time, especially early in the season. Of note, Dean’s major leg separation on her DLO looks much improved this year.


2019 Event Ranking: 4

Lineup locks: Reagan Campbell, Kennedi Edney, Kiya Johnson
Lineup options: Alyona Shchennikova, Christina Desiderio, Sami Durante, Bridget Dean, Kai Rivers

On beam, LSU returns the most final-lineup routines, having lost “just” Sarah Finnegan’s anchor set. You know, that easily replaceable score. It looks like Reagan Campbell will slide into the anchor position in 2020, with Kiya Johnson then taking on the Campbell role in the lineup with her equivalent ability and switch positions. That will be an excellent 1-2 punch.

Other than the introduction of Johnson, we saw an intact beam lineup yesterday with Desiderio, Durante, Dean, and Edney competing in the first four positions. That could very well be LSU’s final beam lineup, though ideally you’ll have Shchennikova coming in there at some point. If Shchennikova knocks someone out of last year’s lineup, I’d expect it to be Dean, who so far seemed to be struggling the most with the new difficulty requirements. But since the lineup is so intact, expect a mostly equivalent beam performance to last year from LSU.

Rivers should also provide a routine, but beam was her rougher event in JO, so I’m not as confident in her presence here as I would be on the other pieces.


2019 Event Ranking: 4

Lineup locks: Kennedi Edney, Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers, Ruby Harrold
Lineup options: Christina Desiderio, Sarah Edwards, Reagan Campbell, Kamryn Ryan, Alyona Shchennikova, Olivia Gunter, Bridget Dean

It’s hard to ignore the serious holes at the end of the floor lineup for LSU heading into 2020, but this is where Johnson and Rivers will be counted on to save the day. Johnson looks like she has the best routine in the lineup and has already provided the highlight of the season, and Rivers had big power on a DLO in JO to make her a compelling nominee. In terms of returning sets, Edney will remain a leader and probable anchor of the lineup. The trio needs to be the big three.

Harrold provided a weekly leadoff routine last season and seems poised to continue that sort of role, and in the best of all possible worlds, LSU will have Desiderio and her DLO going all season long. The team shouldn’t really be lacking options for the remaining position (or positions) in the lineup, but I was a little uncertain as to who would end up filling the last spot or two until seeing Sarah Edwards debut a beautiful DLO yesterday. That bumped her right to the top of my list as the sixth member of an ideal six. That would mean Campbell could provide a backup option and see competition time in the event of injury as she did last year, and it looks like Dean and Olivia Gunter are also being groomed as potential fill-in routines.

Once again here, LSU can be as good on floor in 2020 as in 2019 but that’s very dependent on Johnson matching Finnegan’s scoring potential and Rivers matching Kelley’s.

6 thoughts on “2020 LSU Tigers”

    1. That was a totally nonsense 10 BUT I think Edney is underrated most of the time so I was on board. She’s an excellent NCAAer and often seems overshadowed by the ex-elites/fame-whoring children of fame-whores on her team.

  1. “Alyona Shchennikova will be Alyona Shchennikova once healthy”
    Indeed. What I saw of her bars dismount in workout looked all too Alyona Shchennikova.

  2. I would put Desiderio as a beam lock. Her leadoff set for 101 was impressive – solid, without a single wobble or even check as far as I recall. Imo, she provides everything a leadoff should be.

    1. Agree, great rhythm. I hope she can keep her stamina up this year on floor; she is needed there.

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