BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Senior gymnast Sarah Finnegan has been named the winner of the 2019 AAI Award, the organization announced at the NCAA Championships banquet Wednesday night.
The resume of the senior from St. Louis as an LSU gymnast already spoke for itself before she reeled in another award that exemplifies consistent excellence. The AAI award is known as the Heisman trophy of gymnastics. It goes to the top senior gymnast in the country.
“To be narrowed down out of however many girls and to come out on top is special,” said Finnegan. “Ultimately, it’s a team effort. Every day, they set me up for greatness.”
“She’s so deserving,” added head coach D-D Breaux. “Her gymnastics are so beautiful, but she’s also a great student, an incredible ambassador for the university, and for her to walk out of that banquet with that trophy is a feather in the cap for our university and all of our Tiger fans.”
“Sarah is the most deserving gymnast of that award,” explained senior gymnast McKenna Kelley. “They made the right choice, without a doubt.”
Finnegan is the third Tiger in school history to win the award.
The winner is voted on by the nation’s coaches and considered the highest honor of women’s gymnastics. Finnegan now joins NCAA Champions Ashleigh Gnat and Susan Jackson as the winners for LSU.
“This is an amazing honor. To see Ashleigh Gnat win this award two years ago was inspiring and I am so honored to continue the tradition of this program. To be even considered a finalist and ultimately picked out of the top senior gymnasts in the country is so cool. I could not have achieved this without the support of my teammates not just this year but over the last three years. We still have more work to do as a team this weekend,” Finnegan added.
She is the defending two-time Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Year and all-around champion. She has been a dominating force in the all-around in 2019, Finnegan also set the school record for all-around wins with 13.
“I just feel so much gratification for Sarah. When your peers vote for an award of this magnitude, it is such an honor. To be selected for this, the SEC award and region award is gratifying and humbling. She is so deserving of everything she receives,” said Breaux.
The Missouri native has scored six perfect scores in her career with one on bars, beam and floor this year. Finnegan then went on to clinch the Tigers’ SEC title with a perfect 10.0 score on floor.
The LSU senior won bars, beam and floor SEC titles in New Orleans. She tied former LSU gymnasts Rheagan Courville and Sandra Smith for the most in a career with five. Finnegan also owns the school record for beam titles in a season with 11 and a career record for beam titles with 27.
Finnegan and the rest of the third-ranked Tigers will compete at the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, April 19-20. The Tigers will compete in Semifinal I at noon on April 19 on ESPN2.