The eighth-ranked Georgia gymnastics team will compete in the afternoon session of the Southeastern Conference Championship on Saturday in North Little Rock, Ark. The fifth-seeded Gymdogs will be joined by No. 6 seed Arkansas, No. 7 seed Missouri and No. 8 seed Kentucky.
The meet will begin at 2 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPNU. Bart Conner, Kathy Johnson Clarke and Laura Rutledge will be on the call.
The evening session at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network will include No. 1 seed Florida, No. 2 seed LSU, No. 3 seed Alabama and No. 4 seed Auburn.
Georgia will start Saturday’s competition on vault and end on floor — the same rotation as a home meet. The ESPN networks are unveiling a new scoring interface adjusted for the quad-meet format, new graphics and a real-time stream of each apparatus.
Georgia enters the meet with a 5-8 record, including a 4-3 SEC mark. The Gymdogs have won 16 SEC titles, which is more than any other team. Florida and Alabama each have nine championships. Georgia’s last SEC title came in 2008.
“Our team identity has to be based on its resiliency,” Georgia head coach Danna Durante said. “We’ve battled back, battled back, battled back. We faced a number of challenges in the first half of the season and never backed down. The struggles from early on made us stronger and we’ve seen what we’re capable of when we keep coming back. I am proud of what we have done and I think there are great things in store for us. We’re hitting our stride at the right time.”
“We’re doing a good job of trusting our ourselves and trusting our training,” senior Brittany Rogers said. “We can use that to our advantage in the postseason. It took us some time to work into that, but we’re here now and not letting anything get us down. I am super proud of us for doing that. No matter what session we’re in, our mindset has to be that we’re unstoppable. We’re excited to be out there anytime and we want to put a full meet together.”
The Gymdogs have reached the 197 mark four times this year, including each of the last three meets (two of which were on the road). Alabama won last year’s conference title with a 197.575.
“We’re going in as an underdog, but that’s fine,” Durante said. “Our goal is to leave it all on the floor. We’ve been doing that the last several meets. We’ve been strong start to finish. I see them coming together at just the right time. We absolutely love the underdog role. It gives you the freedom to say, ‘You don’t believe in us, but you don’t know our heart or our desire or our passion or what we’ve done in the gym.’”
“I do think we’re peaking at the right time,” sophomore Gigi Marino said. “We’ve been gaining momentum that is going to help us out. From our regular season, we’ve learned to be resilient in any situation. We know we can bounce back from anything that’s thrown at us. We’ve been doing a good job of transferring everything we’ve practiced into the competitions.”
Georgia is nationally rated No. 2 on vault and No. 9 on both bars and floor checking into Saturday’s meet. Individually, senior Brandie Jay is No. 4 on vault and No. 12 in the all-around, Rogers is No. 4 on vault and No. 7 on beam, and senior Mary Beth Box is No. 7 on beam and No. 14 on floor.
Following SEC championships, the Gymdogs will host the NCAA Southeast Regional on Saturday, April 2. The field for the regional will be announced Sunday.
For all the latest on Georgia gymnastics, follow the team on Twitter (@UGAgymnastics), Instagram (@ugagymnastics) and on Facebook (Georgia Gymnastics), and keep checking in to georgiadogs.com.