Mikayla Magee high-fives a coach after her vault. The University of Georgia gymnastics team hosted a first look meet to unofficially begin its 2020 season on Dec. 17, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

The No. 8 Georgia gymnastics team kicked off the 2020 season Friday night at the Critique Classic Invitational in Kissimmee, Florida. The GymDogs finished first with a score of 195.1.

Georgia started the new year off right on top of No. 7 Oregon State (194.45), Iowa (192.7) and Bridgeport (189.3).

The GymDogs showed a solid start on floor, where they posted a 49.075. Sophomore Rachael Lukacs was the only gymnast to earn a 9.9 on the floor for the evening, but freshman Soraya Hawthorne was not far behind and earned a 9.875. Sophomores Mikayla Magee and Rachel Baumann both followed with scores of 9.8.

On vault, the team scored a 48.675. The highest score was a 9.875 from Soraya Hawthorne. None of the GymDogs earned over 9.9.

Bars followed as the third rotation of the evening, where they scored a 48.150. Again, none of the gymnasts scored a 9.9 on this event, and the highest score was freshman Loulie Hattaway with a 9.75. The average score on this event was a 9.546.

The GymDogs ended the night on the beam and completed with a 49.075. Although none of the gymnasts earned a 9.9, the team finished on a high note with Baumann and Magee leading the way with scores of 9.875. They were followed by freshman Haley de Jong and junior Marissa Oakley with scores of 9.825.

Although the GymDogs were missing senior all-around gymnast Rachel Dickson after she suffered a season ending Achilles tear in practice the week before the invitational, head coach Courtney Kupets Carter noted that the team showed strength and battled, despite emotions running high.

“Floor was a great start, this team typically does really well when they start on floor. There were a few errors on vault, things that we can definitely improve so that’ll be fine and the same thing on bars, we took a little bit of a slump. We finished strong on balance beam and I could not be more proud of this team on beam. This team has a lot of fight and they showed that tonight,” Kupets Carter said.

The GymDogs will head back to Athens to host the LSU Tigers for their home opener in the Stegeman Coliseum on Jan. 10.

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