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GymDog Rachael Lukacs sticks the landing 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)

NEW ORLEANS  Timing was key for the GymDogs at Friday's practice for the SEC championship. The team worked through all four events in the podium style arena.

Some aspects of practice went smoothly, but others, such as timing, will need some work before Saturday’s competition.

“You have a little bit of extra power because you’re at SECs,” junior Sabrina Vega said. “You have a little extra bounce on the equipment.”

Rachael Lukacs was putting in extra work on both bars and vault at practice. She looked stern and determined, working rep after rep to nail her timing the afternoon before her first SEC championship.

Lukacs found her timing to be off on both her vault and bars routine. On the bars, Lukacs said she doesn’t want to think about slowing down her routine, because doing so would mess up her timing further. Instead, she says she needs to “use the bar more.” As a powerful gymnast, Lukacs tends to fly quickly through her routine using her own strength as opposed to allowing the elasticity of the bar to work with her.

On the vault, Lukacs was struggling to get the timing of her hurdle which is the lead into her roundoff. She said that when she doesn’t get the timing of her hurdle right, it affects her in the air. The fix for Lukacs’s vault struggles is to focus on technique, making sure that her chest is moving up and over into her roundoff instead of diving into it.

Despite these struggles in practice, Lukacs remains confident.

“I’ll be fine,” Lukacs said. “I know how to do the vault. Just got to trust it.”

Head coach Courtney Kupets Carter said some of Vega’s reaction times were off as well. Similar to Lukacs, Kupets Carter said Vega has the tendency to overthink, getting herself a bit worked up and “force[ing] the skills instead of really let[ting] them happen.”

In the case of both Lukacs and Vega, Kupets Carter said that she isn’t worried. It’s actually the opposite. The head coach sees yesterday’s struggles as a good thing heading into tonight’s competition.

“Sometimes you really want them to have that adjustment day,” Kupets Carter said. “[If] they’re too perfect on a practice day, they tend to lighten up a little bit and you want them to be really mentally focused and really intentional about what they’re doing.”

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