The purple and gold Tigers from LSU have trotted out a consistently good gymnastics program since the debut of the program back in 1975. From the early years of Jeanie Beadle, to the Sandra Smith era, to the days of Lisa Benn and Angie Topham, to Jennifer Wood, Amy McCloskey, all the way to the present day, it is hard to find a year in which the team was not at the least competitive to, in a large percentage of its seasons, exceptional.
The early years of LSU gymnastics were rife with success. 1976, the 2nd season that LSU was fielding a women's gymnastics team, was a portend of the future to come. The team managed a perfect record of 9-0, and then went on to follow up that undefeated season with another undefeated season in 1977, a season in which the team went 10-0. 1978 was still a big time season, however, it did bring the team its first loss in 3 years, a 136.2-135.4 loss at Georgia.
The 1980's brought continued success to the LSU women's gymnastics program. The team began playing a beefed up schedule beginning in the early 1980's, and as such, some of the gaudy winning percentages actually came down slightly, but the team still was highly successful in general. 1980 resulted in a season of 28-8 overall, and that strong season was followed up by a season of 18-5 in 1981. However, beginning in 1983, the LSU women's gymnastics program began to experience a downtick of sorts. Indeed, that season showed a chink in the armor of sorts. The 17-13 record was still solid, but was clearly weaker than the previous seasons. And that only was the beginning.
1984 represented the worst season to date for LSU women's gymnastics, a season in which the team went only 8-10 overall, and a season in which the team finished the season with a disappointing 4th place finish in the SEC championships. While the team temporarily stabilized the ship to a 16-14 record one year later, the team then set a mark for a new worst season ever in 1986, when the team went 13-17 overall.
Fortunately, what goes down must come up, especially when the thing that goes down is a prestigious women's gymnastics program. And certainly, the late 80's represented a golden era for LSU gymnastics, as the squad rebounded nicely. The 1987 club amassed a record of 23-11 overall, and 10-7 in the postseason. The 1988 club took that level of success to an even higher level, finishing with a record of 28-9-1, with the season culminating in a 4th place finish in the NCAA championships.
The 1990's represented another up and down type of a decade for the LSU women's gymnastics program. The team had a number of very good years. These included 1994, a 19-9-1 season, 1995, a 20-9 season, and 1998, a 20-13 year. But interspersed among the good years were also some disappointing years. These included 1992, one of the worst seasons in the history of LSU women's gymnastics, in which the team went 8-20, 1993, in which the team went only 17-16 (although given that this represents such an improvement over the previous season, in context it was not awful), and 1996 (13-13 overall).
Since the dawn of the new millennium, the LSU Tigers have been consistently good to very good. While they are clearly not the best team in the conference, and may not even be the 2nd best, they are clearly among the top half of programs in the SEC, and will likely have their share of conference success for years to come.
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