SEC Gymnastics Week 2 Preview: Missouri vs. Alabama thriller; LSU, Kentucky reach for 197s

By Elizabeth Hunter | January 12, 2024
Kentucky's Isabella Magnelli on floor at the 2024 Mean Girls Super 16 meet.
© Filippo Tomasi/Gymnastics Now

All eight SEC gymnastics teams will have made their 2024 debut after this weekend. Out of the SEC teams that have competed, the Road to Nationals standings have all six ranked in the top 15. 

Missouri leads the conference at No. 3, followed by Alabama at No. 4 and LSU at No. 5. Kentucky is positioned at No. 9, and Auburn is at No. 11. Georgia is the last SEC team ranked at No. 15. Florida and Arkansas aren’t ranked since they haven’t had a meet yet. 

Read on for a breakdown of each SEC team heading into this weekend.

#3 Missouri vs. #4 Alabama

The Tigers and the Crimson Tide will face off on Friday, Jan. 12 in what is sure to be one of the most thrilling meets of Week 2. The competition is set to start at 7 p.m. ET at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa and will be broadcast on SEC Network.


Missouri had an amazing start to the 2024 season after scoring a 197.150 – a program record for the Tigers’ season opener. The Tigers are heading into this weekend with the highest team score among all SEC teams and with its highest-ever placement in the Road to Nationals rankings, coming in at No. 3.

Mizzou’s program has been on the rise for several years and now all eyes will watching what happens when the Tigers face off with Alabama this weekend. Mizzou snagged its first win over Alabama last season after 44-straight losses.

Junior Jocelyn Moore scored a 9.975 on floor last week, which tied with Alabama sophomore Gabby Gladieux for the best score on the apparatus in the country. Missouri (49.450) scored two-tenths higher than Alabama (49.250) on floor, so that event could be the deciding factor of this matchup. And it goes without saying, but Moore and Gladieux are both officially on 10 watch.

In Missouri’s tentative starting lineups, it seems the Tigers plan to keep their event lineups the same as last weekend. If that is the case, the Tigers will need to boost their bars score (49.175) by about four-tenths to catch up with Alabama’s score (49.525). That was the biggest event differential between the two in their separate meets last week.


The Crimson Tide is juiced up after coming off a huge win last weekend at the Mean Girls Super 16 quad meet. Alabama beat UCLA, Cal, and in-state rival Auburn in the outing. With seven gymnasts scoring 9.9s or higher in the first meet, the Tide is off to a pretty remarkable start. 

Freshman Chloe LaCoursiere scored a 9.9 for her stunning bar routine.

“That was a moment that I will never forget,” LaCoursiere said. “Starting off as leadoff, I knew how important of a role that is and how it sets the energy for the rest of the lineup. When I stuck that dismount, it was just a moment of ‘yes, I did this.’ I didn’t even care about my score in the moment because I knew I had just helped set the rest of my team up for an opportunity for a great rest of the lineup.”

2021 SEC all-around champion and graduate student Luisa Blanco was of course a force for the Tide. She scored a 9.95 on bars and a 9.9 on vault. Blanco had beautiful height and lines on her Yurchenko 1.5 and with a stuck landing could easily turn it into a 10.0.

Gabby Gladieux was named the SEC Specialist of the Week on Tuesday for her 9.975 floor routine. Gladieux has always performed great on floor for Alabama, but now, as a sophomore, it seems that her confidence has taken her even further and she could achieve that elusive 10.0 this season.

#9 Kentucky vs. #11 Auburn

The Wildcats will travel down to Neville Arena in Auburn on Friday, Jan. 12 to take on the Tigers. The meet will start at 8:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on SEC Network.


Kentucky’s mission for this weekend will be reaching the 197 mark. The Wildcats scored a 196.775 last weekend in the second session of the Mean Girls Super 16 quad meet. Auburn, in the final session, scored a 196.6. With the squads evenly matched, Kentucky may need a 197 to leave Alabama with a win.

The Wildcats will have to up their beam and floor scores to achieve this goal. It seemed like the floor judges were being very harsh with scores at the Super 16, so it is possible that Kentucky’s floor score will increase this weekend in front of different eyes.

On beam, Isabella Magnelli scored a 9.7 and usual stronghold Arianna Patterson scored a 9.05 (dropped). Kentucky may choose to change its lineup in order to feel out the best mix of athletes for this event. 

Gymnastics Now’s Gymnast of the Week, Raena Worley, could be due for a 10.0 on bars. Worley scored a 9.975 for last weekend’s routine, but a 10.0 this weekend in such a close matchup could mean the difference between a loss and a win. 


“We tell the girls all the time it should be difficult to select lineups,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. “If it’s not difficult to select lineups, the edge goes off. That means it’s too predictable. We’re at a point right now where everybody’s pushing a little bit. I just want to keep the edge on through February into March.”

Welp you read it… it looks like gymnastics fans won’t have a solid answer of who is in the Tigers’ lineups for the long haul for a while. However, with gymnasts like Olivia Hollingsworth, Cassie Stevens, and Sophia Groth already scoring 9.9s, it’s likely those athletes will be keeping their spots. 

Auburn’s lowest event score at the Super 16 was vault with a 48.975. No one in the lineup scored above a 9.875, so this event’s lineup is the most vulnerable to change. 

Graba said that his goal for the year was to beat top 10 teams like Florida and Kentucky, but to do that, the team must score in the mid-to-upper 197 range. With this in mind, and only two freshmen (of six) were in lineups last weekend, fans can bet that Graba will be switching it up to find the most reliable routines this weekend against Kentucky.

#15 Georgia vs. Arkansas

The Razorbacks will host their season opener against the Bulldogs at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Friday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. ET. The meet will be broadcast on SEC Network


The Georgia Bulldogs are heading into this weekend 1-0, but fans are unsure what the team will look like after it was confirmed Wednesday that standout fifth-year Haley de Jong will miss the rest of the season after being injured before the meet against NC State. 

De Jong was an all-arounder for the Bulldogs, which left the team throwing together some unexpected lineups at the last minute. It will be interesting to see if the lineups from last week stay the same or if we see some new faces in Arkansas.

Freshman Kelsey Lee also announced on Instagram that her season was over after sustaining an arm injury during vault warmups and having surgery. Lee stated, “We have worked so hard, and I’m so blessed to be a part of such an amazing team no matter what my role may be.” After Lee got injured, Georgia didn’t fill her spot in the vault lineup, opting instead to put up only five athletes, so fans will have to wait and see who fills that sixth spot this weekend.

The SEC announced on Tuesday that Lily Smith was named Co-Freshman of the Week after her stunning 9.975 debut bar routine last weekend. At the meet, freshman Ady Wahl was the only all-arounder, but it is possible that Smith could step up to fill the hole in the vault lineup and also become an all-arounder this week. 


Preseason No. 15 Arkansas will take the stage for the first time this season in a home opener, and the Razorbacks are already off to a great start after breaking their season ticket record for the third season in a row. In the last four matchups with the Bulldogs, the Razorbacks have come out on top, but Arkansas hasn’t defeated Georgia at a home meet since 2020.

The Razorbacks have no reported injuries heading into this season. Fans are expecting to see big things from Lauren Williams, who made it as an individual competitor to the NCAA Championships as a freshman last year.

Head coach Jordyn Wieber signed a new contract in the offseason that has her staying in Fayetteville through at least 2026. She wasted no time adding former Stanford standout Kyla Bryant as an assistant coach.

Bryant was an all-arounder during her time at Stanford, but was known as a floor and beam queen. Under her and Wieber’s coaching, we expect to see improved performances from the GymBacks on both events this season. Plus, with the team adding beam All-American Sirena Linton from Arizona to their roster, we can assume Arkansas is on the rise on that make-or-break event in particular.

Florida @ Florida quad

Preseason No. 2 Florida begins its 2024 campaign on Jan. 12 with a home quad versus Fisk, George Washington and new program Talladega. Start time is 7 p.m. ET in Gainesville and will be broadcast on SEC Network +.

Gymnastics fans everywhere can’t wait to see Florida take the stage on Friday. As the reigning NCAA runner-up for the past two seasons, the Gators are gearing up for an action-packed season. Florida head coach Jenny Rowland said during a media availability that she expects all six freshmen to compete and contribute in some way this season. 

“We could have a lineup with three freshmen in it, which is crazy and awesome. And we understand, and the team understands, this is a year of growth and development and learning, and I have all the confidence in the world that this team will have success,” Rowland said.

Rowland said that Ellie Lazzari and Morgan Hurd will be feature more in lineups this season and counted on more heavily as they have become veteran leaders on the team. Victoria Nguyen will be competing as an all-arounder on Friday and filling some of those holes leftover from gymnasts who graduated.

#5 LSU @ Sprouts Farmers Market Collegiate quad

The Tigers will face tough competition on Saturday, Jan. 13 as they take on No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Utah, and No. 12 UCLA in a near-rematch of last season’s Four on the Floor NCAA final (swap UCLA for Florida). The Sprouts Farmers Market Collegiate quad meet is being held at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah, at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ABC

The Tigers faced an injury before last week’s season opener when senior Alyona Shchennikova went down with an Achilles injury. LSU head coach Jay Clark said that she would be out for the “foreseeable future.” Shchennikova posted Sunday on Instagram saying “I’m always going to hold up the L loud and proud even in my new role! Can’t wait to be this team’s biggest cheerleader this year!”

LSU narrowly missed the 197 mark last weekend, scoring a 196.975. Heading into this competitive meet, the Tigers will need to pass the 197 mark in order to have a shot at beating Oklahoma (197.850 last week) and Utah (197.300). 

There is no doubt that LSU has depth at beam, so in order to increase their beam and overall score, they may choose to put different athletes in the lineup this week as they look for the right mix.

The Tigers claimed two SEC awards for the start of the 2024 season following their performance against Ohio State. The conference announced on Tuesday afternoon that senior Haleigh Bryant was named SEC Gymnast of the Week and freshman Amari Drayton was named Co-Freshman of the Week.