BATON ROUGE (WVUE) -
On their way to another national championship appearance, the clear cut theme around LSU gymnastics is that this is their year to finally break through and win the program's first title.
"I've never felt this way," says senior Lexie Priessman. "We talk about it all of the time. McKenna (Kelley) and I look at each other like, 'This is our year.' It has to be, and why not?"
"We have all of the confidence going into this weekend because we've proven that we're the Tigers, and we came to win," says Sarah Finnegan.
The experience factor also works in their favor. Nearly the entire roster's competed for a national championship at least once, and in the case of the senior class, gymnasts like McKenna Kelley, Lexie Priessman, Julianna Cannamela and Sarah Finnegan already have a pair of second place finishes to their name.
"Just knowing all of the hype, all of the excitement, all of the energy, all of the nerves that you experience that level of competition," says Finnegan. "We've done that before. I think that's definitely an advantage."
One thing that will be a little different with the new format that has just eight teams in the national semifinal instead of the 12 in years past is fewer SEC teams. LSU and Georgia are the only two representing the conference this year.
"Usually, half the field is from the SEC," says head coach D-D Breaux. "I think that will be a strange look."
"It's cool that we're one of those," says Priessman. "That's also an advantage for us because we won SEC's, and that gives us confidence going into nationals knowing if we beat these great teams that didn't make it this far, why not us now?"
“We want to represent the conference well and bring home a national championship,” says Breaux.