LSU’s Bryant and Johnson Take Home SEC’s Top Honors

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LSU gymnast Haleigh Bryant competes during an NCAA gymnastics meet against Arkansas on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

BATON ROUGE, LA – LSU gymnasts Haleigh Bryant and Kiya Johnson earned the league’s top honors, voted by the head coaches from each institution, the Southeastern Conference announced Wednesday.

Bryant was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and Johnson was tabbed as the SEC Specialist of the Year. Bryant is the third gymnast in LSU history to be named the top freshman in the league, joining April Burkholder and Johnson. It is also the fourth time an LSU gymnast has been named the top specialist in the league. Ashleigh Gnat won the award in 2016 and 2017 and Lloimincia Hall was chosen in 2015.

“We are so excited for both Haleigh and Kiya to be recognized at this level,” head coach Jay Clark said. “It is a tremendous accomplishment for our program and a glimpse of what is on the horizon for us all. We have a team full of great gymnasts and are proud of each and every one of them.”

The Southeastern Conference also announced Bryant, Johnson, Elena Arenas and Alyona Shchennikova as All-SEC performers. Arenas captured the vault title with a 9.95 on her Yurchenko Full. Shchennikova finished with a 9.925 on vault for second overall. Arenas and Bryant were also named to the SEC All-Freshman team.

Bryant earned a share of the vault title at the 2021 SEC Gymnastics Championships with a 9.95, the seventh LSU freshman to win an SEC title. Nationally, she finished the season third on vault (9.956 NQS), fourth on vault (9.956 NQS) and ninth in the all-around (39.594 NQS), the highest rankings by any freshman in the Southeastern Conference.

She owns career highs of 10 on vault, 9.90 on bars, 9.9 on beam, 9.975 on floor and 39.625 in the all-around. Bryant is the only freshman in the SEC and just one of two in the country to score a 10 this season. In her debut season, she scored a 9.90 or better eight times on vault and seven times on floor. In nine meets, Bryant won 11 total titles with five on vault, four in the all-around and two on floor. She was also named the SEC Freshman of the Week six times and Gymnast of the Week once.

Johnson captured the floor exercise title at the 2021 SEC Gymnastics Championships with a perfect 10.0 in her postseason debut. She became the 10th gymnast in conference history to score a 10.0 on the floor exercise at the SEC Championships. Johnson joined fellow LSU gymnasts Sarah Finnegan (2019) and Ashleigh Gnat (2017) as the only competitors to score a 10 at the SEC meet on floor in the past five years.

She finished the season as the top performer in the country on floor, competing in four meets on the event and scoring a perfect 10.0 three times. Johnson is tied with Trinity Thomas of Florida and Anastasia Webb of Oklahoma for the most perfect scores in the country this season, with Johnson and Thomas the only gymnasts with multiple perfect scores on floor.

She also has an NQS of 9.925 on vault, tying her for 12th place nationally, after scoring a 9.95 three times this season. Johnson has recorded season highs of 9.95 on vault, 9.925 on bars, 9.925 on beam and 10.0 on floor.

Fans can follow the Tigers on the team’s social media channels: @LSUgym on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, www.Facebook.com/lsugym and at YouTube.com/lsugymnastics.

2021 SEC Gymnastics Awards

Gymnast of the Year: Luisa Blanco, Alabama

Co-Event Specialists of the Year: Derrian Gobourne, Auburn and Kiya Johnson, LSU

Freshman of the Year: Haleigh Bryant, LSU

Coach of the Year: Jenny Rowland, Florida

All-SEC

Shania Adams, Alabama                    

Luisa Blanco, Alabama                      

Makarri Doggette, Alabama              

Lexi Graber, Alabama           

Shallon Olsen, Alabama                    

Kaylee Quinn, Alabama                     

Sophia Carter. Arkansas                                

Derrian Gobourne, Auburn                            

Cassie Stevens, Auburn                                 

Drew Watson, Auburn                                   

Alyssa Baumann, Florida                              

Leah Clapper, Florida                        

Ellie Lazzari, Florida                         

Megan Skaggs, Florida                                  

Josie Angeny, Kentucky                                

Bailey Bunn, Kentucky                                 

Anna Haigis, Kentucky                                 

Arianna Patterson, Kentucky                         

Raena Worley, Kentucky                               

Elena Arenas, LSU                          

Haleigh Bryant, LSU                                   

Kiya Johnson LSU                           

Alyona Shchennikova, LSU                        

Sienna Schreiber, Missouri                

All-Freshman

Shania Adams. Alabama

Ellie Lazzari, Florida 

Bailey Bunn, Kentucky

Elena Arenas, LSU

Haleigh Bryant, LSU

Amaya Marshall, Missouri

(Press release provided by LSU Athletics.)

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