Hey!! The University of Georgia student-athletes won an NCAA sanctioned athletic contest versus an SEC Conference opponent in Stegeman Coliseum in the year 2021! But it ain’t men’s basketball. That’s all I have to say about that.
The Gym Dogs opened the 2021 season with a comfortable win against the visiting Missouri Tigers 196.150 - 194.250. A home win against a ranked conference team is never a bad thing, yet there is reason for both caution and optimism. First, Missouri was missing several key gymnasts and had something like 50% of their routines from ladies new to their program. Second, this was a chance to make a statement, as it was pretty certain Mizzou couldn’t hang in the Steg so Coach Courtney Kupets-Carter was probably hoping for a 196.500 or the like.
Still and all, there were bright spots. UGA opened on vault and Junior Mikayla Magee carded her career-high 9.925, but all other scores were in the 9.7 range. I missed the broadcast but I understand freshman Victoria Nguyen completed a 1.5 yurchenko, which I don’t know if I’ve seen since Sydney Snead donned the Red and Black. Another bright spot was the uneven bars (stop the presses!). A 49.325 was tallied from scores of 9.750, 9.850, 9.875, 9.950, and Nguyen’s 9.975, which currently leads the nation.
Beam was... okay... especially considering my involuntary twitches having seen the Gym Dogs on this apparatus before. Magee and Nguyen again led the way with 9.850s. As usual, the ladies closed a home meet on floor. Four scores between 9.825 and 9.875 and the match was in no doubt. Even senior Sterlyn Austin was able to perform her floor routine. For reference, imagine seeing Prather Hudson line up in the backfield - you know the game is well in hand.
So a solid opening night, but with lots of room for improvement. For example, 4 other SEC teams scored half a point higher than Georgia did on opening weekend. One of those teams happens to be our next opponent, it happens to be on the road, and it happens to be the #1 Florida Gators.
Florida opened up at Auburn and pretty much dominated. They were able to count 10 different scores of 9.9 or better. For comparison, UGA had 3. And #2 Oklahoma had 5. Florida has started strong and I don’t know if they will let up. Losing to a loaded Lizard program will be no shame and won’t necessarily hurt the Gym Dogs. So long as they score in the mid 196 range or higher. A good road score is almost as important as a road win for the rankings and post-season positioning. And Coach CKC could use a really good road performance to build confidence and to show the world her recruiting and development will get the Gym Dogs back to their rightful place as contenders for a national championship.
The meet starts at 6:46 pm ET, and will be broacast on SEC+, and at some point on ESPN2 on tape delay. There is a live stream available so help yourself with this link.
And as always...