When last we saw our Cajun friends, they were high-tailing it out of Atlanta back to Red Stick, with an SEC Championship in their hands, and UGA’s dreams left in their wake. Now, the Tigers are coming back to the State of Georgia looking again to beat the Bulldogs into submission, only on gymastics mats.
This time it will truly be a home advantage, as the Gym Dogs host LSU at Stegeman Coliseum Friday night in the SEC opener for both schools. The match will be broadcast at 7:30 pm EST on the SEC Network. Based on the crowds for the UGA/UK basketball game, the Steg will be rocking like it hasn’t since I don’t know when.
The Gym Dogs started their season in Kissimmie, FL last week at the Critique Classic Invitational, with mixed results. First off, the team was dealt a devastating blow when it revealed senior Rachel Dickson tore her Achilles tendon and is lost for the season. Dickson was a stalwart on the team and the only returning All-Around competitor. We wish her quick healing and the absolute best of luck, whatever the future holds (are there red shirts in Gymnastics? Asking for a friend.)
At the meet itself, Georgia started on floor and grabbed two 9.90s (Rachael Lukacs/Soraya Hawthorne*), totaling 49.075. Next was the vault, which was a strong suit for the 2019 Bulldogs. Not so much this time, with a total of 48.675 and Hawthorne again leading the way thanks to her 9.85. They moved to bars next, and even lower results. 9.70s from Amanda Cashman and Loulie Hattaway resulted in a 48.150 total.
Finishing on the devil’s apparatus, the Athenians tallied a nice 49.20 on the beam. Four ladies scored 9.85 (Mikayla McGee, Haley De Jong, Marissa Oakley, and Rachel Baumann. And yes, we have three Rachels/Rachaels on the squad). This kept the Bulldogs in the lead, and to take the trophy. Oregon State finished 2nd with 194.450, Iowa with 192.700, and Bridgeport with 189.300.
I’m never great at finding gymnastics rankings, but with our somewhat jittery first scores and losing Dickson, I’ve seen the Gym Dogs ranked as low as 12th. And the visiting Bengals look to be around #7. LSU also showed some less-than-ideal scoring in their opening match, as I understand they even had to count a fall in one routine. But rest assured they are as talented as almost anyone, and this could be a preview of a national semi-final or other post-season matchup.
So tune in to SEC Network Friday night, and let’s root on these young ladies in their first big contest of the 2020 season. And as always...
*I saw elsewhere Hawthorne scored 9.875 on floor.