Georgia head coach Courtney Kupets-Carter speaks to an assistant coach during a meet against Utah at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, on Saturday, March 16, 2019. The Georgia GymDogs defeated the Utah Red Rocks 197.525 to 197.450. (Photo/Rebecca Wright)

The Georgia gymnastics team is familiar with its history with LSU. The Tigers have brought home an SEC championship trophy three years in a row, and the GymDogs are also on a three-year losing streak to LSU.

The battle between Georgia and LSU continues inside Stegeman Coliseum in Athens on Friday night as the GymDogs host the Tigers in their SEC home opener.

Despite the high-level competition and noise around the program, the GymDogs treat the matchup with LSU like any other.

“Our best bet is to leave all that history in the past — because it is the past — and just keep moving forward,” sophomore gymnast Rachael Lukacs said. “We have a team filled with tons of talent and just need to keep working on the small, little details. As long as we attack and don’t hold back, I know we’ll be fine.”

Georgia head coach Courtney Kupets Carter agrees that preparation for this home opener is business as usual despite the SEC hype and the loss of senior all-around gymnast Rachel Dickson.

“That wasn’t the way we wanted to start.” Kupets Carter said. “But there were so many positives. Now, we refocus. We don’t change. Our plan is the same.”

Although the GymDogs will approach and prepare for this matchup with the same routine and attitude as any other, junior Marissa Oakley mentioned that the team does recognize that the importance of their first SEC contest of the year against a talented LSU team is hard to ignore.

However, the GymDogs remain calm, confident and collected during the days before tough competition picks up.

“It’s definitely a huge matchup,” Oakley said. “But we can’t control what the other team’s doing and we can’t control a lot of the outside circumstances. We’re focusing on our team and staying in our little bubble.”

The team knows they have to make small improvements and still have some jitters to shake out based on the Critique Classic Invitational on Jan. 3, where the GymDogs took first but scored a 195.1.

However, Kupets Carter’s smile doesn’t waver, and she shows pure excitement for the next challenge ahead.

“We love going against top SEC teams,” Kupets Carter said. “All the things you want to see in them to know they’re going to have a great week. They’re energized and ready for their first SEC win.”

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