After battling a cold during practice Thursday for the NCAA championships, LSU sophomore McKenna Kelley was able to compete in the national gymnastics semifinals Friday night. This year her team has a bigger agenda than just making it, and they are executing their plans so far.
Oklahoma (197.725) and UCLA (197.500) emerged from the first semifinal with Utah (197.050).
The top three teams from each semifinal will advance to the Super Six competition Saturday at 8 p.m. Rounding out the hotly contested first semifinal were Washington (196.5625), Denver (196.475) and Oregon State (196.3625).
In her first collegiate season, the 2016 USA Olympic alternate has won 41 individual titles, including the all-around, vault and floor championships at both the Pac-12 Championship and the NCAA Regional. Regardless of how tonight plays out, Skinner was the best of an Olympian-packed afternoon session. Kocian's best event Friday was her floor routine, where she led the Bruins with a 9.9375 and finished second overall to Skinner.
Utah gymnastics freshman MyKayla Skinner has topped the charts throughout the regular season. While it wasn't Washington's lowest beam score of the season, small mistakes put the team score of a 49.1875, on the lower end of Washington's beam performances. Merrell took Stover's lead, popping for a career-best 9.90 and the Utes were off and running. UCLA's Kyla Ross won beam at 9.9625.
"MyKayla Skinner competes with such confidence that it carries over to the rest of the team", praised Farden. Going into this weekend, the Red Rocks main focus is to step it up again, focusing on their landings to get those extra execution points.
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Vault, the Bruins' final rotation, was their weakest event of the meet, with no gymnast scoring above Kocian's 9.8750. Just prior, Lewis chipped in a nicely executed 9.85 routine. Rowe ranks No. 5 in the nation in the all-around. The Cougars beat Arizona for the first time in 10 years on March 10 while recording a season-high 49.050 on vault in the process.
Then the Utes came to life on the beam.
"Floor has always been my favorite event because I can show off my personality", said Skinner.
On floor, three different gymnasts, including Kocian, built on the momentum and scored higher than a 9.90.
LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux said after Thursday's practice there was a "99 percent chance" Kelley, a floor exercise specialist, would be ready Friday, even though they prepared backups Kennedi Edney and Ruby Harrold just in case.