The No. 11-ranked Georgia gymnastics team will compete in the friendly confines of Stegeman Coliseum for just the second time this season when the Gymdogs entertain No. 1 Florida on Friday.
Friday’s meet will begin at 7 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network. Bart Conner, Kathy Johnson Clarke and Laura Rutledge will be on the call.
The Gymdogs (2-3 overall, 2-1 SEC) had four of their first five meets on the road, including each of the last two weeks. Florida — which has won the last three national championships — checks in at 4-0 overall and 2-0 against league foes.
“January was a tremendous month of growth for us,” Georgia head coach Danna Durante said. “Even if a score wasn’t reflective of that, there were so many things that we learned as a team and as individuals. Travel makes you tougher and stronger, and every road meet was an opportunity to learn and grow.
“This week, there’s no question it’s going to be an unbelievable environment. The level of difficulty on both sides will be phenomenal and we’re excited about the opportunity to be in front of 10,000 fans who love and support us. How can you not thrive in that environment? I get goosebumps just talking about it.”
The Gymdogs enter this week rated fourth on vaults and bars and seventh on floor. Florida is No. 1 on bars and beam, No. 2 on floor and No. 3 on vault.
“We’re focused on what we’re doing,” Durante said. “We don’t have to play offense or defense against Florida. We have to take care of what’s important for Georgia. We have to take the things we learned in January and put them into play.”
Senior Brandie Jay enters Friday’s meet with the nation’s second-best average on vault at 9.9 and she has the seventh-highest all-around average at 39.412. Fellow senior Brittany Rogers is averaging 9.895 on bars (seventh best in the country).
“Being at home on Friday will add excitement and adrenaline that you just can’t get when you’re on the road,” Rogers said. “Stepping into Stegeman Coliseum, there’s an instant shock of energy that can only help us with our performances.”
Rogers Heading To Nova Scotia After Friday’s Meet
Rogers has a busy weekend ahead of her. After competing on Friday, she will fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Saturday and will exhibition Sunday in the Elite Canada Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Elite Canada is one of the primary meets at which national team status — including the 2016 Olympics squad — is determined.
“I am overwhelmed thinking about this weekend, but with the support I’ve gotten from Georgia and from Canada, it’s bound to be a successful one,” Rogers said. “Even though I’m just exhibitioning, I felt it was important to make an appearance to show them that I’m still focused, still in shape, still in the game.”
Rogers returned to Athens in late December after spending the previous months in Canada training for the World Championships. Rogers helped her team to a sixth-place finish, which means Canada earned a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games. Rogers is a six-time All-American and two-time SEC champion (bars and beam in 2013). She was the NCAA runner-up on bars as a junior in 2015 and has competed all four events during her Georgia career. She also represented Canada in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Georgia’s Series With Florida
This marks the 140th all-time meeting between Georgia and Florida. The Gymdogs hold an 88-50-1 advantage in the series.
Following Friday’s competition, Georgia will host LSU on Feb. 13 and Oklahoma on Feb. 20.