Georgia's Talented Freshman Class Bodes Well For Gymdogs' Future

When Oklahoma and Georgia faced off Friday night, the two squads had one thing in common. Both rosters were filled with freshmen.

The top-ranked Sooners came into the meet with six freshmen, while the fifth-ranked Gymdogs featured nine rookies on their rosters.

The biggest difference on the night was that Georgia had to use a lineup filled with newcomers while Oklahoma still had veterans they could rely on to carry them through.

The Sooners dominated the match 197.825-195.300 at Lloyd Noble Center as they handed the Bulldogs their first defeat of the season.

“I'm sure [youth] has a little bit to do, but honestly, you can't put the excuses on that,” Gymdog’s coach Courtney Kupets Carter said. “At the end of the year, you've got to be ready to go, you've got to hit your events, and if someone falls, you've got to be able to pick it up. So, yes, they're young. They've already had one meet under their belt. This was their first away meet. But every away meet's going to be new.”

While Carter doesn’t want to use lack of experience as a reason for her team's showing at Oklahoma, it is a factor.

Georgia returned five gymnasts with experience from last season: Sydney Snead, Rachel Dickson, Sabrina Vega, Marissa Oakley, and Emily Schild. That includes four All-American gymnasts from a squad that finished seventh in the nation.

Snead is the only senior on the team.

“I think that this was a great learning point,” Snead said. “I think we'll be able to take away a lot of things. And like I said, it was the first away meet, so we'll definitely build off of it.”

The freshman class is made up of talented gymnasts from across the country: Alexa Al-Hameed, Sterlyn Austin, Rachel Baumann, Sami Davis, Rachael Lukacs, Mikayla Magee, Alyssa Perez-Lugones, Megan Roberts, and Abby Ward.

“Everyone always is saying, 'Oh, you have nine freshmen, how is it going to work?'” Vega said. “You know what? We take it, and we work from it ... We get everyone ready the same: freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior; it doesn't matter what grade you are. We all have done gymnastics for so long ... so we just go out there with a fire and our passion, and we just go after it.”

When you have such a young squad, the team can go through ups and downs during the course of a season. In the Gymdogs first meet against Ohio State, the freshmen had stellar performances. Six of the nine competed and helped Georgia post a score of 196.600 in front of the home crowd at Stegeman Coliseum.

"The impact of our freshmen is everywhere," Kupets Carter said. "When we have a team meeting, we have two rows, and all the freshmen are in the first row. They are really important to us. They are very important because we need them to continue fighting. Even though we only have one or two on each event, we need to keep them building." 

However, when the freshmen experienced their first road meet, they didn’t have the same success and they posted lower scores. But Vega said the missteps are somewhat expected.

“Honestly? Freshmen, you have those butterflies,” Vega said. “You don't really know what to expect. This is our first away meet, so it's a learning experience. Overall, we did great. We have to fix some stuff when we get back to the gym, but another stepping stone. It's just the beginning of the season.”

Carter said despite the loss to the Sooners, the trip will defiantly be a learning experience for them.

“The biggest thing is to, one, just take a step back, because there is some disappointment,” Carter said. “Everyone, obviously, doesn't wish this when they go in there. They don't want to fall, they don't want to make mistakes. So, we have to take a step, see what we're doing as coaches, what they're doing skill-wise; if there are any changes we need to make or lineup positions, and just really reevaluate. It's a good time for us to just make sure we're doing everything we can for them.”

Carter also said her freshmen had their moments where it was easy to tell the type of potential the Gymdogs will be working with in the coming months and years.

“There were some high points, and some improvements in some areas. Vault was amazing,” Carter said. “I mean, if we look at vault just in general, they came back from bars and bounced back with a 49.3. Really, every single one of those athletes improved from last week on that event. But we can't just do it on one event; gymnastics has four, so we're going to make sure we can do it on all four.”

Michael Kinney is a freelance content provider who handles sports, news, entertainment, culture, and lifestyles. You can find him on TwitterInstagram, and on his blog.

Oklahoma Caps Incredible Season With An NCAA Title

In the inaugural Four on the Floor final of the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships, the Oklahoma Sooners won the team title and are back on top after scoring a huge 198.3375. The LSU Tigers had another runner-up finish and earned their highest NCAA Championship score with a 197.8250 ahead of last year's champion UCLA Bruins, who were in third with a 197.5375. The Denver Pioneers concluded their season with a fourth-place finish, their best ever final ranking in program history, with a 197.0000.

UCLA, LSU, Oklahoma & Denver Advance To 2019 NCAA Finals

After placing in the top two in their respective semifinals, UCLA, LSU, Oklahoma, and Denver have qualified to the first Four on the Floor NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championship final. In semifinal I, UCLA finished in first with a 197.6750, and LSU finished in second with a 197.5125. In semifinal II, Oklahoma won with a 197.8500 while Denver came in second with a 197.0375.

Individual All-Around Competitors At 2019 NCAAs

While the full teams duke it out for the NCAA team championship this weekend, gymnasts will be competing individually for event titles as well—including for the all-around. 

Title Or Bust For No. 1-Ranked Oklahoma Women

When the 2019 season began, the Oklahoma women’s  gymnastics team found itself ranked No. 2 in the nation. After losing out to UCLA in the 2018 championships, the ranking seemed to be a good reminder of what the Sooners missed out on.

Fueled By 2018 Letdown, Oregon State Makes It To NCAA Championships

Coach Tanya Chaplin remembers the moment well. With her Oregon State squad on the verge of making it to the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, the unthinkable happened.

UCLA Looking For A Repeat In Legendary Coach's Final Meet

Even if you’re not a gymnastics fan, you’ve probably had some sort of exposure to the UCLA gymnastics team. You may have seen Katelyn Ohashi moonwalking and split-jumping to Michael Jackson in her viral floor routine. You may have seen Kyla Ross win the team gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, or Madison Kocian win the team gold and the bars silver medal in Rio. And you may know that the Bruins are the reigning national champions, which they won by 0.0375 last year in one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Never Satisfied, Oklahoma Men Strive For Fifth Consecutive National Title

NORMAN, Okla. — Yul Moldauer’s resume speaks for itself. The Oklahoma senior is a 15-time All-American and owner of seven individual national championships. Those are just a few of the honors and accolades the Colorado native has amassed in his time with the Sooners.

Morgan Hurd, Sam Mikulak Win Tokyo World Cup

On Sunday (late Saturday evening in the U.S.), gymnasts competed in another FIG World Cup, this time in Tokyo, Japan. There was both a women’s and men’s competition, and both meets showed talent from a range of countries. 

Denver & Oregon State Earn Upset Bids To NCAA Championships

On the last night of regionals anything can happen, and Saturday’s action at the Corvallis regional finals proved that. No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Denver, No. 12 Boise State, and No. 15 Oregon State matched up in the final evening of competition, but only two could move on to the NCAA Championships.

UCLA & Michigan Qualify To NCAA Championships

Finishing in the top two in the final round of competition at the Ann Arbor NCAA women's gymnastics regional championship, reigning national champion UCLA and reigning Big Ten champion Michigan have qualified for nationals.