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Major Disappointment as Olivia Dunne Benched for LSU vs Utah NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Finals

Published 04/20/2024, 4:40 PM EDT

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With a total score of 198.2250, the LSU Tigers made history on April 20th, bagging their first-ever NCAA Championship trophy! After Utah took over the lead after Rotation 3, it was quite a close call. But LSU managed to turn things around. But the absence of highly anticipated celebrity gymnast Olivia Dunne in the semis and finals surprised many spectators.

Expectations were high, with Louisiana competing for its first NCAA Gymnastics National Championship against powerhouse teams in Utah, Florida, and California. While LSU took over the vault, beam, and all-around, knocking out Utah to the third place, all eyes were on Olivia Dunne, LSU’s standout gymnast, who posted a pre-competition selfie in a sleek all-white leotard. 

LSU’s participation in the finals was their 33rd appearance in the NCAA Championships and their fifth to the pinnacle of college gymnastics. However, only moments before the competition, LSU unveiled their floor squad via a picture on X with the caption, “Our Floor Squad.” Olivia Dunne was one of the noticeable absentees, sending shockwaves and leaving fans wondering what drove such a decision. 

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Olivia Dunne has been a strong performer all season, drawing attention to her remarkable skills and leadership on the mat. Dunne showcased her skills at the Arkansas Regionals on April 4, impressively achieving her personal best with a score of 9.90 in floor exercise. Her retirement announcement heightened the significance of her final NCAA Gymnastics Championship appearance but she was left out.

Despite missing out on the finals, Dunne was excited to win the NCAA Championship, and taking to her Instagram she called it the “best day ever.” This could be Dunne’s last year in the NCAA, though it is not set in stone.

Hinting on her retirement from gymnastics, on a TikTok video in February, she shared, “When the sport I’ve done for the past 18 years will come to an end in less than 2 months.” This March, she again stated her uncertainty on the matter in a press conference, “Yeah I’ve not decided if I’m coming back for a fifth year yet, I could but I haven’t really thought about it yet.”

Given her impressive performances this year and LSU’s first NCAA title, it won’t be a surprise if she is back next year.

Olivia Dunne’s grip on the tumble this year

Olivia Dunne performed admirably in her debut routine for 2024, earning a solid 9.875, thus contributing to LSU’s overall success. While Dunne’s score may not have been the highest among her teammates, her immaculate execution captivated much attention. In March, on LSU’s senior night, Dunne earned a perfect score from one judge in her beam routine against North Carolina and registered an average of 9.8 with 9.75 in the beam routine.

Dunne and the Lady Tigers have enjoyed an impressive spring season, fresh off their sixth conference title at the SEC Championships.

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The Tigers Gymnastics team had a great season in 2024, winning 23 of 28 competitions. Additionally, Olivia Dunne, Haleigh Bryant (who won the 2024 AAI Award), and Aleah Finnegan shared the SEC Gymnast of the Week honors. Despite Dunne’s absence from the competition, she’s seen on most online or social media videos warming up with her teammates while the Tigers retained their lead in the championship run.

After reaffirming their supremacy in the semifinals recording an all-around score of 198.1125—the program’s second-highest score at the NCAA championships. LSU Tigers is now live in action at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas for its battle to add a new national title to the collection.

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Meanwhile, fans await Olivia Dunne’s presence in the elite mats as she leaves the question of her retirement looming after championship success.

 

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Written by:

Divya Purohit

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Divya Purohit is a senior Olympics Sports writer for EssentiallySports. She majorly covers gymnastics, alpine skiing, and horse racing. While bringing the detailed stats of gymnastics to the American readers, she covered two prominent events - the 2023 Xfinity Gymnastics Championships, and the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar