First SEC Meet of the Season for Gymdogs

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First SEC Meet of the Season for Gymdogs

Natalie Vaculik performs on beam during the Bulldog’s gymnastics meet with the University of Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2014 in Athens, Ga.
(Photo by John Kelley)


Seventh-ranked Georgia returns to Stegeman Coliseum on Friday evening at 7 p.m. ET to face Missouri for its first Southeastern Conference meet of the season. Live video streaming will be available on SEC Network + and the WatchESPN app.

The Gymdogs will face seven SEC teams in their 2015 campaign, five of whom are ranked in the top-25. Including Georgia, five SEC programs are currently ranked in the top-10.

Fans Encouraged To Arrive Early

Due to live coverage of SEC gymnastics on the SEC Network, pre-meet festivities and introductions will begin earlier this season. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:45 on Friday, and the meet will start promptly at 7:06 p.m.

Georgia-Missouri History
This is only the 11th meeting between Georgia and Missouri, and just the third dual meet. The two teams first faced off on Jan. 15, 1985 in Athens, with Georgia coming away with a 185.900-174.500 dual meet win. In 2013, the Gymdogs beat Mizzou 196.825-194.550 in Columbia. The teams were scheduled to meet last year on Feb. 14, but a winter storm across the South forced a cancellation of the meet.

Last Time Out
Georgia dropped its first contest of the season to then-No. 8 Michigan, 196.600-195.600, last weekend in front of a sellout crowd of 10,224 in Stegeman Coliseum. This marked the 12th time in program history the Gymdogs performed in front of a maximum capacity crowd at home.

Five Gymdogs Make Stegeman Debut
Eight of Georgia’s 24 season-opening routines were performed by five gymnasts making their Stegeman Coliseum debut. Three Georgia freshman saw action for the first time: Natalie Vaculik (Whitby, Ontario) on vault, bars and beam, Gigi Marino (Scottsdale, Arizona) on vault and Vivi Babalis (Montreal, Quebec) on beam and floor. Two sophomores, Beth Roberts (Tifton, Georgia) and Rachel Schick (Rancho Cucamonga, California), competed on vault and bars, respectively.

• Junior Brandie Jay had Georgia’s highest score of the opening weekend, as well as the overall highest score of the meet against Michigan, with a 9.925 on vault. This matches Georgia’s highest vault score in a season opener since 2003, when Chelsa Byrd scored a 9.95 against Nebraska.
• Senior Sarah Persinger performed the all-around against Michigan, competiting on vault, beam and floor, while exhibitioning bars. Persinger has competed the all-around twice before in her career, both as a freshman in 2012.
• Kiera Brown posted Georgia’s highest score on floor against Michigan, a 9.85, in her first career floor routine. She also tied with Chelsea Davis’ for Georgia’s top bars score, a 9.875, and competed on beam.

The Gymdogs retained their No. 7 ranking in this week’s top-25. Current rankings on based on average overall team scores. In team event rankings, Georgia finds itself in the top-10 on vault (No. 10), bars (No. 5) and beam (No. 7).

Up Next
The Gymdogs will have a quick turnaround as they travel to No. 17 Denver for a meet on Monday at 4 p.m. ET, less than 72 hours from Friday’s contest. Georgia will return home to host Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 4 p.m. ET in Stegeman Coliseum.

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