Fresh off its win over then-No. 1 Florida, the No. 11-ranked Georgia gymnastics team will return to Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday when the Gymdogs entertain No. 5 LSU.
Saturday’s meet will begin at 4 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network +. Melissa Lee, 9-time UGA national champion Courtney Kupets Carter and Kayce Smith will be on the call. The meet will air on the SEC Network on Monday at 9 p.m. and on Tuesday at noon.
The Gymdogs (3-3 overall, 3-1 SEC) used the energy of 10,224 fans to overcome a .90 deficit heading into the final rotation and post a season-best 49.65 on floor (the third-highest total in the country this season) against Florida. Georgia ultimately posted a 196.400-196.350 decision over Florida, its first in 17 meetings with the Gators dating back to 2009. It was also Georgia’s first win over a No. 1 since dispatching the Gators in 2008.
After losses to Stanford and Missouri, Georgia head coach Danna Durante said her team began to hit its stride with a victory at Kentucky and continued that surge against the Gators at home last Friday. She hopes to see continued growth this week against LSU.
“There’s no question we want to keep building and keep embracing these opportunities to compete and to get better,” Durante said. “The last two meets have given us a renewed sense of purpose. The struggles we had early on were difficult then, but now we’re sure those struggles have made us better. Our gymnasts are seeing that the work is paying off and we’re focused on staying the course. We are excited to see where we are at the end of February as opposed to where we were at the end of January. We’ve just got to keep building on what we’re doing each and every week.”
“That win really boosted our confidence,” senior Brittany Rogers said. “The atmosphere with our fans pumped us up. I think we can carry that forward to the LSU meet. We know we’re strong and talented and it’s time for us to kind of unleash ourselves. The win over Florida was a great start for that.”
The Gymdogs enter this week rated fourth on bars, sixth on vault and seventh on floor, while LSU is No. 1 on vault, No. 6 on floor and No. 8 on bars. Senior Brandie Jay enters Saturday’s meet fifth on vault and seventh in all-around, while Rogers is No. 7 on bars and senior Mary Beth Box is No. 14 on floor.
“Yes, we’re happy that we won last week, but we had a 196.4 and we need to do better than that,” Durante said. “The top teams in the country are throwing out 197.5s and that’s where we need to be. That’s an easy fix. We left several tenths out there on beam and vault, so we need to clean those things up.
“The biggest thing that came out of last Friday was confidence. We can stop thinking so much and stop trying to control everything and just do the gymnastics that we’ve trained. We took what was good at Kentucky and built on that against Florida. Now we need to take another step against LSU. We need to trust in the process, focus on the little things, take a deep breath and get out of our own way.”
Durante noted she is happy that former Georgia gymnasts and coaches will be on hand Saturday. There will be recognitions before and during the meet, including the 10-year reunion of the 2006 NCAA champions, Leah Brown for her Circle of Honor induction, and the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
“Our Alumni Meet is so special,” Durante said. “They are some of our loudest supporters and to have all of them in one place means so much. The history and tradition of Georgia gymnastics is phenomenal, and we are grateful for all the things they did to put this program on the map. We’re thankful for what they did and we want to show them that.”
This marks the 85th all-time meeting between Georgia and LSU. The Gymdogs hold a 68-24-2 advantage in the series.
Following Saturday’s competition, Georgia will host Oklahoma on Feb. 20.