LSU finished second at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships on Saturday, its fourth second-place finish since 2014, behind champions Oklahoma and ahead of third-place finishers UCLA. But the team’s celebration, as confetti showered down, was just as jubilant as if they’d won it all. Back in Baton Rouge, LA, there’s already a billboard congratulating the runners-up.
The team’s last floor routine of the night was a high-octane, floor-pounding performance from McKenna Kelley that earned a score of 9.95, mere hundredths from the coveted perfect 10. As Kelley stood up to take a final bow, the sea of purple- and gold-clad fans went wild. Among them, a bona fide gymnastics icon: Kelley’s mom, Mary Lou Retton, the first American woman to win an Olympic all-around gold, who was flashing perfect-10 fingers, blowing kisses to Kelley, and getting tearful as she watched her daughter’s team take home the runners-up trophy.
Kelley is a senior, which means this might be her final season; she has one year left of eligibility but isn’t sure whether she’ll use it. On LSU’s senior night in March, Kelley earned her first career perfect 10, with Retton watching from the crowd. “I try to make every competition I can,” Retton said in a 2016 ESPN feature. “I tell her every season, ‘McKenna, I’m really gonna do it this season. I’m gonna sit down like most of the other parents and just clap when you go and be quiet and civilized.’ And I just can’t help myself!”
“Her voice is so distinct and I can always hear it in the crowd,” Kelley said. “She’s a hollerer, for sure.” Who can blame a mom, when there’s so much to cheer about?
Watch a clip of Kelley’s finals floor routine above (wait until the end to see Retton cheering along). Then, check out her full routine from the semifinals, the performance that earned her that perfect 10 back earlier in the season, and a few other sweet snaps of mother and daughter.