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Rachel Dickson clebrates after a successful bars routine at a University of Georgia gymanstics meet against Arkansas on Feb. 1, 2019 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. The Gym Dawgs defeated their opponents 197.475 - 196.125 after all events. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

NEW ORLEANS -- Although the SEC gymnastics championship didn’t turn out how the GymDogs had hoped, Rachel Dickson remembered that every tenth counts.

Dickson shined in three events on a night when Georgia needed her most, counting a 9.9 or higher on beam, floor and bars.

“Although we may not have had our season high, every tenth counts at this point going into the two [most important] meets of the season, regionals and nationals,” Dickson said.

The junior all-around gymnast recorded the only scores of 9.9 or higher in Georgia’s first two events, beam and floor, and recovered from a mistake on vault to contribute another 9.9 to the GymDogs’ season high on bars.

The GymDogs began with a shaky beam rotation, totaling a 49.05, its second-lowest beam score of the season. Dickson’s 9.9 helped boost the mark, as Georgia was forced to count two scores below 9.8.

The team struggled with a rowdy atmosphere in the first rotation, and Dickson took a deep breath to focus before mounting the beam and contributing her season high.

“Starting on beam is tough at a meet like this,” Dickson said. “You had to get your jitters out a little bit.”

On floor, Dickson exuded joy as she performed a strong routine and counted her second consecutive 9.925 on her favorite event.

Dickson’s floor exercise is an opportunity for the junior to show her personality. The team often teases her for keeping a lively grin throughout her routine.

“I tell them no matter what, my mouth is going to be open,” Dickson said.

Dickson nailed her double Arabian pass she’d been working to perfect throughout the season. With the help of head coach Courtney Kupets Carter, who once performed the pass, Dickson fine-tuned the E-level skill, valued with the highest difficulty in collegiate gymnastics.

“As the season goes on, [the double Arabian] is getting better and better,” Dickson said. “I think that’s awesome because it’s a super cool skill to do.”

Dickson suffered a mishap on vault, taking several extra steps as she lost control of the landing on her Yurchenko half-on front pike. Dickson’s low score of 9.575 didn’t count in the team’s 49.175 total on the event.

Despite performing a less-than-ideal vault, Dickson retained confidence on bars and caught her ray release move. The ray, a toe-on reverse hecht where Dickson flings herself above the high bar, has given her trouble at various points throughout the season.

Head coach Courtney Kupets Carter applauded Dickson’s ability to overcome an imperfect touch warm-up where she missed bar following the release move.

“She should be very proud of herself that she stayed with it on bars when it was a little shaky for her,” Kupets Carter said.

Dickson’s seniority stood out on a team that boasts nine freshmen and only five returning gymnasts. In a high-energy meet like the SEC championship, the poise of an experienced upperclassmen carried the weight and helped the younger GymDogs retain their composure.

“She’s a great, great athlete,” Kupets Carter said. “That’s where she’s really been working hard on that mental, not getting ahead of herself and not getting flustered with anything.”

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