Ashleigh Gnat Earns Corbett Award as State’s Top Female Athlete park
The LSU Gymnastics program has seen a slow and steady climb to becoming one the most elite programs in the country. As it soared, so did senior gymnast Ashleigh Gnat.
The Lake Mary, Fla., native helped the Lady Tigers win the 2017 Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships followed by a second-place finish at the NCAA National Gymnastics Meet in April.
Her outstanding season continues as she has been selected as the winner of the 2017 James J. Corbett Award as the most outstanding amateur female athlete in the State of Louisiana. The honor will be presented on Saturday, August 5 as part of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Banquet at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
A total of 23 individuals, including this year’s Hall of Fame class (Dean Courtade, J.T. Curtis and Barbara Farris and Vaughan Johnson), and three teams will be honored at this year’s banquet. All of the honorees are selected by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
“I’m very honored,” Gnat said.
And she has been.
Gnat, a three-event specialist, won the beam, vault and floor exercises championships at the SEC meet in March, tying her with Rheagan Courville (2014) for the most by an LSU gymnast in SEC competition.
She recorded nine perfect 10.0 scores in her career, tying her with Jennifer Wood for the most in school history.
She also won the NCAA Lincoln Region floor title with a 9.95, her 11th floor title of the season, which set a new school record for the most in a single season.
At the national meet, in her final collegiate competition, she recorded a 9.95 on the beam.
By season’s end Gnat was ranked No. 1 on vault, No. 4 on floor and No. 8 on beam, giving her 17 All-America honors. That tied her for second most in school history.
In LSU’s career titles ranking, Gnat is at No. 5 on floor with 22 titles, No. 6 on vault with 22 titles and No. 7 on beam with 12 titles. She also is eighth in school history with 62 total titles.
Gnat capped her stellar career by winning the 2017 AAI Award, which is presented annually to the best gymnast in the country, essentially making it the “Heisman Trophy” for the sport. Gnat joins three-time NCAA Champion Susan Jackson, who was the 2010 Corbett Award winner, as the only winners in school history. The winner is voted on by the nation’s coaches and considered the highest honor of women’s gymnastics.
“The fact that our peers voted on absolutely the right person was amazing,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “Every coach should have the opportunity in their lifetime to coach someone of her character and talent. She epitomizes what every student-athlete should be. I’m so proud that she can bring this award to our university. This is the Heisman trophy for our sport, and I am so proud the right person won it.”
“It was definitely such a huge honor to receive that award,” Gnat said. “It’s not something that you win [only] as an individual. The support I’ve had from my team over the last four years has enabled me to compete at this level. They push me every single day in practice to be able to put everything out there on the mat when we compete together. Although it was given to me I would say that it was definitely one that we won together.”
Gnat was also named a nominee for the prestigious Honda Sport Award for Gymnastics. The honor recognizes superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence (she was a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and an Academic All-American in 2016) and eagerness to participate in community service (she has been a part of three straight Tiger Cup wins, which is awarded to the LSU team that owns the highest team GPA along with the most community service hours). She graduated in May with a degree in sports administration.
Story submitted by Lori Lyons of the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee.