Fifth-year LSU gymnast Christina Desiderio thrives in lead role on balance beam and floor | USL

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It’s no exaggeration to say that Christina Desiderio grew up in LSU’s gymnastics program.

When she arrived at LSU in the summer of 2017, she was just shy of her 17th birthday. Her parents back home in New Jersey weren’t too thrilled.

“They were obviously very sad and a bit nervous, but deep down they knew I could handle it,” Desiderio said. “I think they knew how mature I was as an elite gymnast. I had to travel every month to do gymnastics.

She is 21 now, still competing, still loves the program and the sport she couldn’t give up even though she graduated last year.

Like LSU’s other six seniors starting in 2021, Desiderio had a huge life decision to make. Get on with your life, start a career, move on, or accept the NCAA’s offer to give spring student-athletes an extra year to compete because their 2020 seasons were cut short by the pandemic.

Five of the six – Desiderio, Reagan Campbell, Bridget Dean, Sami Durante and Sarah Edwards – decided to return.

“We were all like, ‘Are you coming back? Are you coming back?’ said Desiderio, who helps lead No. 5 LSU against No. 8 Alabama at 7:45 p.m. Friday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. “I wouldn’t say it was a group decision. We all did what was best for each of us. But I think we all knew we didn’t want to miss another year, because it’s been an amazing experience.

“I think I knew straight away that I was going to come back because I love gymnastics. I really love her as much as when I was little. I could have taken different paths, but deep down I knew I couldn’t miss this opportunity.

At age 4 or 5, Desiderio used to cartwheel on restaurant floors when his family went out to eat in Hackettstown, New Jersey, about an hour west of Manhattan. At the age of 6, she started seriously in gymnastics. In fifth grade, she was homeschooled so she could practice from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A two-time member of the U.S. National Team, Desiderio competed at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and was the star of his recruiting class. Though she excelled in the classroom with five Southeastern Conference Academic Honors Rolls and two Academic All-Americans, her college career never quite reached the heights one might have imagined for her. her when she went to LSU. Over time, injuries – particularly to the ankles and hip – limited her balance on beam and floor.

But a lack of quantity does not necessarily mean a lack of quality. LSU coach Jay Clark has given him the key leading roles on balance beam and floor, where Desiderio must set the tone and relieve the pressure of the five gymnasts to follow.

“It’s important for me to go up there and be calm and steady,” Desiderio said.

She’s never done better than two weeks ago in a highly charged top-10 battle with Auburn. Desiderio had a 9.925 on beam and a career-high 9.95 on floor, helping lead LSU to a 197.975-197.750 electric win.

“We talk a lot about Christina Desiderio,” Clark said. “She was a big part of that game with a 9.925 and a 9.95. It’s unbelievable. Few teams have someone who can throw you at that level. Her demeanor was unlike anything I’ve seen.

Desiderio followed that up with a solid 9.875 on beam and 9.90 on floor last week in Florida. Four of his seven routines so far this season have been 9.90 or better.

If there’s a reason for that, Desiderio can sum it up in one word: happiness.

“I feel like a lot of people are saying I look my best right now,” she said. “Everyone says it’s because I’m really happy, and I really am. I love this team and I love the sport.

She recognizes that her time in the sport is coming to an end. She is currently in a graduate program in human resources, but is considering a job opportunity to coach junior gymnasts with Campbell in Dallas, her hometown.

“But I also want to look at other options to make sure I pick the best one,” Desiderio said.

One thing she knows is in her future for sure when it comes to the gymnasts she grew up with – marriages. Lots of weddings.

“We talk about it all the time. ‘We’re going to have 25 weddings to attend. It’s going to be crazy!'” Desiderio said.

The Alabama meet was moved from the SEC Network to ESPN, the first appearance on the network for LSU’s program. There are a limited number of general admission tickets remaining, with doors opening at 6:15 p.m.

The meet will also mark LSU Alumni Night. More than 50 former LSU male and female gymnasts will be recognized, along with longtime coach DD Breaux and recently retired assistant coach Bob Moore.

If you’re a Tiger fan, you won’t want to miss this newsletter. Register today.

SEC Rating

SEC Team Pct. Overall percentage. Avg. of the season

Florida 5-0 1,000 8-0 1,000 197,638

Auburn 3-1 .750 6-1 .857 197.250

Kentucky 3-1 .750 6-1 .857 196.880

LSU 2-1 .667 3-1 .750 197.400

Alabama 2-2 .500 4-3 .571 197.154

Missouri 0-3,000 5-3,625 196,850

Arkansas 0-3 0.000 2-3 0.400 196.370

Georgia 0-4,000 2-5,286 195,600

Last week’s results

Friday’s results

Florida 198.150, LSU 197.825

Alabama 197,475, Georgia 196,800

Kentucky 196,700, Arkansas 195,675

Auburn 197.575, Missouri 196.275

Friday schedule

Alabama at LSU, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Florida at Kentucky, 5 p.m. (SEC Network)

Auburn at Georgia, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Sunday schedule

LSU/Arkansas at Missouri, noon (SECNetwork+)

All Hours CST

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