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Georgia's Marissa Oakley rotates over the balance beam during a gymnastics meet on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. Georgia lost to Florida. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and containment efforts made by the SEC and NCAA, the Georgia gymnastics’ team experienced multiple ups and downs during the shortened 2020 season. The GymDogs finished 2-4 in the SEC and were unable to compete against Missouri for their final meet before SEC championships and the possibility of NCAA regionals and finals.

At the start of the season, Georgia gymnastics welcomed five new faces to their program with four freshmen gymnasts and volunteer assistant coach Katie Heenan Dodson, a former GymDog who competed with head coach Courtney Kupets Carter while at Georgia. Eleven gymnasts returned to the squad for the team’s self-titled “Vision 2020” season, including two seniors, Sabrina Vega and Rachel Dickson.

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Highs and lows

Throughout the season, Georgia gymnastics saw the most success on floor, finishing with a 49.395 National Qualifying Score in the event.

The GymDogs scored their highest floor performance against Auburn at home with a 49.6, in which five of six gymnasts in the rotation scored a 9.9 or higher. Their success on floor was led by senior Sabrina Vega, whose routine was named by ESPN as one of the top 10 “Should-go-viral floor routines for the 2020 NCAA gymnastics season” in the fourth week of competition.

In an opposite fashion, Georgia scored lowest overall on bars with a season average of 49.125 NQS. Bars became an event that plagued them more than once to drop their meets’ scores. In their SEC opener against LSU, the GymDogs posted their lowest bars score of the season with a 48.050 as they were forced to count one fall out of two suffered in the rotation.

This trend was repeated in Georgia’s last meet against Alabama that unknowingly concluded the shortened season. The bars lineup experienced the most infrequency throughout the season of any event, owing to various injuries and difficulty finding consistency in scores.

Injuries’ impacts

This season, two identical injuries plagued the GymDogs in the form of ruptured Achilles tendons.

At the start of the season, senior Rachel Dickson suffered an Achilles tear days before Georgia’s first competition. Dickson was the only returning all-around gymnast for Georgia, and the injury forced multiple shifts to each event’s lineup. The senior led the team in beam and vault scores in her junior year as a GymDog.

Amanda Cashman was the second gymnast lost to the injury one day before Georgia’s Valentine’s Day tri-meet against Ball State and Eastern Michigan. The freshman competed on vault, bars and floor before her injury, earning a career high on floor with a 9.925 against Auburn.

Inconsistent scoring

A common trend for the GymDogs in 2020 was the inconsistent scoring in both individual events and overall meet scores. In a hot and cold season, Georgia gymnastics’ held a range of 2.325 points between their highest and lowest scoring meets, with their lowest being the first meet of the season at the Critique Classic Invitational and the highest being their home matchup with Auburn.

Two low scores at the beginning of the season appeared to be opportunities to work out the kinks in the lineups, as the GymDogs collected their first score above 197 against Iowa State in the third week.

Low scores still plagued the GymDogs as they were disappointed to not hit 197 consistently as they progressed into the season. After their season-high score against Auburn, the points awarded steadily dropped in their final conference meets, save for the tri-meet against unranked Ball State and Eastern Michigan.

Coming into competition in January, Georgia was ranked No. 8 in the NCAA, which remained the highest ranking the GymDogs would see for the rest of the season, as they finished the shortened year at No. 12.

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