Having Residuals of Olivia Dunne’s Benching, LSU Gymnastics Fans Cheer Up Reacting To Aleah Finnegan Winning NCAA Championship: “Started Crying”

Published 04/23/2024, 10:15 AM EDT

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The stage was set at Dickies Arena on April 20, 2024, for the highly anticipated 2024 NCAA Gymnastics National Championship Finals. The LSU Tigers were primed for an epic showdown against California, Utah, and Florida. However, shockwaves rippled through the gymnastics world when standout Olivia Dunne was benched from the floor routine roster moments before the competition. Despite this setback, LSU began with a flourish, delivering an outstanding performance on the floor and earning their highest score in championship history.

However, as they entered the fourth rotation, the Tigers found themselves trailing Utah by a mere 0.0375 points. In the decisive final rotation, it was Sierra Ballard, who set the tone with a near-perfect 9.95. Freshman Konnor McClain delivered a remarkable routine, with a 9.9625, while seniors Kiya Johnson and Haleigh Bryant each posted scores of 9.95. But it all came down to one hit routine and one gymnast—21-year-old Aleah Finnegan—who stepped up despite the shadows of Olivia Dunne’s benching and Schoenherr’s fall looming over the team.

Aleah Finnegan brings redemption to LSU after Olivia Dunne’s benching faux pas


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The final moments of LSU’s historic victory at the 2024 NCAA Gymnastics National Championships were recently shared on their Instagram page. The post’s caption perfectly captured the moment’s essence: “That final routine from @aleahfinn to clinch the title is a moment we’ll never forget.” Aleah Finnegan walked onto the stage with pressure mounted on her shoulder and Olivia Dunne and her Tiger teammates watched on with bated breaths. With great poise, Finnegan delivered an impeccable routine, including a flawless spring layout and a perfect dismount.


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This earned her a remarkable 9.95 on beam and lifted the LSU gymnastics team to their first NCAA championship win. As she completed her routine, her emotions overflowed among the team, including Olivia Dunne. Finnegan hugged her coach and teammates, who were beaming with pride and teary-eyed at witnessing her mark on LSU’s name in history. The Tigers achieved a record-setting total event score of 49.7625 on beam, and this moment captivated the internet, leaving fans emotional and overwhelmed.


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The gymternet left teary eyed


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A horde of fans who took to the internet to support Finnegan for standing by in solidarity for her team their unequivocal emotions, saying, “When she started crying, I started crying. What an incredible anchor 💜💛” . In the wake of Dunne’s benching fiasco, the horde of comments have eschewed in an era of LSU dominance and strength.  Another fan, overwhelmed by the moment of someone standing by as a lynchpin against all odds stacked against them, wrote, “Chills again! tears again! THE MOST AMAZING MOMENT” . Others also followed suit by giving LSU its much needed impetus and support by drawing parallels to Finnegan and her exceptional team playing skills. It was described the moment as “ICONIC. INSANE. INCREDIBLE.” One fan also noted the high emotions running, saying, “Her face when she nails the landing 🥹🥹amazing!”

Another enthusiastic person who soaked in the emotional vibe permeating in the Dickies Arena wrote gushingly with awe, “The moment she landed and saw her get emotional I cried. What a team!!”. Gymnastics isn’t the only thing that’s given prime importance too here, team playing skills are sacrosanct too it seems, as is evident by Finnegan’s performance of filling in and making her team proud. One fan noted the high expectation of Aleah this year, saying, “I don’t know what it is! But she has it!!! She was a absolute rock all season. Excited to see her get her shot at the Olympics this summer.” As Aleah Finnegan aims to represent the Philippines at the Paris Olympics this year, fans eagerly await to see her journey unfold. What are your thoughts on this incredible winning moment from the Lady Tigers? Comment below!


Written by:

Christaline Meyers


One take at a time

Christaline Meyers is a senior Olympics writer at EssentiallySports who specializes in gymnastics and alpine skiing. Christaline is one of the acclaimed authorities in the coverage of 6x All-Around champion, Simone Biles. She has written extensively, covering every detail of Biles’s life stories as well as providing her perspective on Simone Biles’ Yurchenko Double Pike controversy.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar