Marissa Oakley raises her arms as the fans light up Stegeman Coliseum. The University of Georgia GymDogs hosted Iowa State and won with a final score of 197.325 - 196.625 on Jan. 20, 2020, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

Courtney Kupets Carter has high praise for junior Marissa Oakley on bars.

“She’ll just hold a handstand for a minute,” Kupets Carter said. “Okay, it was actually like 2 seconds, but that’s what it feels like.”

One of Georgia’s few upperclassmen, Oakley has begun to take on a leadership role for the GymDogs. Her performance on Sunday against Auburn contributed to the GymDogs’ season-high score of 197.425 to defeat an SEC rival.

Oakley stuck a 9.925 to win the event title on bars, which helped the team meet its highest score of the season on bars of 49.275. Oakley’s energy coming off of bars transferred to the beam, and she scored a 9.9 to mark her season-high score.

Kupets Carter described Oakley’s different gymnastics style as one that reflects fluidity and has a graceful feel to it even when she competes in a powerful event such as bars.

“When she performs, she’s absolutely beautiful,” Kupets Carter said. “It is perfection in some ways.”

Oakley’s coaches and teammates have recognized Oakley’s strength in a leadership role beyond the mat as well. Kupets Carter trusts that even as Oakley does what is best for herself after working through recent shoulder injury pain, she still manages to focus on the team and Georgia’s goals.

“She’s very determined,” Kupets Carter said. “She will go through whatever amount of pain she has to. She’s determined to be there for everyone.”

Oakley’s life outside of the gym shines through her personality as a teammate. Her intellectual mindset that has developed from studying psychology and the role of a mediator as the middle of two sisters have both contributed to Oakley’s ability to guide and help steer her teammates in the right directions.

“There’s a lot she can bring to the table about how to handle teammates,” Kupets Carter said. “She knows how to get along and how to handle conflict.”

Georgia will travel to No. 15 Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks on Friday night. Kupets Carter believes that Oakley will continue to lead the team to claim another SEC win by bringing the team together to work toward their goals.

“That’s Marissa. She’s there for you. She’ll listen to you,” Kupets Carter said. “She’s a big piece to the connection between the team.”

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