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From walk-on to consistent performer; Sierra Ballard has energized the 2023 LSU gymnastics team

2 months 5 days 18 hours ago Wednesday, March 29 2023 Mar 29, 2023 March 29, 2023 7:08 PM March 29, 2023 in Sports
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The LSU Gym team is about to start their NCAA Tournament run on Friday. The Tigers got hot down the stretch after a rough start to the season, finishing third in the SEC Tournament two weeks ago.

A big reason for that turnaround was Sierra Ballard, who went from being a walk-on to a consistent performer even though Ballard's first two years at LSU didn't go the way she wanted.

"Going two years without competing really can mentally take a toll on you. And you feel like you forgot how to do gymnastics all over again," Ballard said.

But heading into her junior campaign, Ballard knew she wanted to change that.

"I took the time this summer to really train to get right and come back consistent and a spot where I couldn't be denied."

That hard work paid off. After a few injuries earlier in the season, Ballard entered the lineup on floor and beam and has taken off.

"Just coming confident from the very beginning. I knew that I could hit a floor routine and I know that I can perform."

"This is the first opportunity she's had to get in competitively on any consistent level on beam and his handling it really really well," LSU head coach Jay Clark said.

And now Ballard's pressure of being Jay Clark's niece is starting to be lifted. 

"There's always that little voice in the back of your head that's like, people are gonna think that you're given a spot because you're family," Ballard said. "He does a really great job of not showing favoritism."

"I think she would say I went the other direction and maybe I was harder on her than I was other people, but really all I've tried to do whether it's just make sure she understood that she matches our expectation of what a LSU gymnast is," Clark said.

The Tigers will compete in Denver on the NCAA tournament Friday at 3 p.m.

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