When it switched to a league-only regular-season schedule for gymnastics, the Southeastern Conference put in protocols and procedures to deal with what was seen as an inevitable case of COVID-19 impacting a team.
Unfortunately for No. 2-ranked LSU, the Tigers are that team.
Because of contact tracing issues within the program, LSU’s meet at Auburn set for 4 p.m. Friday has been postponed, the school and the SEC announced Tuesday afternoon.
No makeup date can be determined before further testing takes place, but LSU coach Jay Clark is hopeful the meet can be scheduled for next week. A time and television or streaming plans would have to be determined at a later date.
Clark said the postponement is not because of a major coronavirus outbreak within the LSU program but because of contact tracing issues that impacted most of the team.
“The girls wear these monitors that measure the amount of time they have been around each other in a 24-hour period,” Clark said. “We haven’t had a major outbreak, but this took out the vast majority of our team for this week because of the protocols we have to adhere to.”
The LSU gymnasts will be tested again later this week and next Tuesday. If there are no positive tests, Clark said he is hopeful all of his gymnasts would be cleared to compete next weekend if the meet is rescheduled.
Clark said the gymnasts can continue to practice but in small groups broken down by whom they share an apartment with.
Clark spoke earlier this season of the commitment he has asked LSU gymnasts to make to be careful about social distancing, including not letting non-members of the team in their apartments for the duration of the season.
“They’re doing everything in their power” to stay safe, Clark said. “We’ve got good kids who are adhering to the protocols and are restricting themselves socially. But even with all the things we try to do we still wound up in a place we don’t want to be.
The LSU gymnastics team rose to No. 2 in the country in this week’s rankings, according to the website RoadToNationals.com.
“The whole world is frustrated with these (procedures). But it’s what we have to do. I’m mostly frustrated that this is happening in these kids’ lives right now.”
The LSU-Auburn meet is the first SEC gymnastics meet this season to be postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. LSU is 3-0 and 2-0 in SEC competition coming off a 197.200-196.375 win over Georgia on Friday. That score vaulted LSU to No. 2 behind Florida with a season average of 197.008.
The SEC built two open date weeks into the regular season to reschedule meet: next week and the weekend of March 12, which falls before the March 20 SEC Championship meet at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
Clark said the team underwent testing Tuesday and expects to get results back Wednesday. There will be another round of testing later this week. If those results don’t show any infections among the gymnasts, they would be on track to be able to compete next week under the SEC’s seven-day contact tracing window.
Bryant earns SEC honor
LSU freshman Haleigh Bryant won her second SEC freshman of the week honor Tuesday. She was also named freshman of the week after LSU’s season opener against Arkansas and was SEC gymnast of the week two weeks ago for her performance at Arkansas.
Against Georgia, Bryant won the all-around title with a 39.475 and was first on vault with a 9.90.