Georgia’s Rachel Baumann Emerges From the Shadows

Last season, No. 7 Georgia came into Gainesville and upset No. 3 Florida, giving it its only home loss of the regular season. At that meet, then-freshman Rachel Baumann posted a season high and a second-place finish on beam. 

Last night, the No. 2 Gators returned the favor, handily defeating the No. 10 Gymdogs in their home turf. This time, Rachel’s sister—Florida junior Alyssa Baumann—won the beam title with a whopping 9.975. 

One of the few pairs of eyes not fixated on Alyssa’s nearly flawless set were Rachel’s. The sophomore was competing on floor immediately following her sister’s routine, and she knew she needed to stay focused on the task ahead of her. 

“We never competed against each other growing up, so I always watched her,” said R. Baumann. “I get more nervous watching her than [I do] actually competing.”

Her teammates, including Sabrina Vega, were ready to help keep her in the moment: “She asked us to keep her distracted and focused [on floor] when her sister was going,” Vega said. “That’s what having a team is about. When someone needs to be a little bit distracted, we’re there to step in and be her family.”

A. Baumann also sympathizes with the struggle to balance being supportive and competitive when facing her sister’s team. “You want to be as good as your sibling, and even a little bit better,” she said. “That’s always been there, but especially now that we’re on different teams. I always want her to do well—so I’m going to root for her no matter what—but I just want our team to do a little bit better!”  

Florida did more than “a little better” this time around, winning by over a point. Though Georgia couldn’t match last season’s results, R. Baumann performed solidly on vault and her beam routine earned the team’s highest mark on that event.

Georgia’s head coach Courtney Kupets Carter said, “[Rachel] Baumann, at a really crucial time on beam, came up with one of her best routines all year. There were a few little things, but it was beautiful.” 

Carter also cited R. Baumann as one of the team’s leaders, along with senior Vega and classmate Rachael Lukacs. 

As injuries have eaten away at the Gymdogs’ depth in 2020, R. Baumann has emerged as one of the team’s strongest and steadiest competitors, contributing only one score below 9.750 this season. She’s ranked No. 33 nationally on beam, not far behind Alyssa at No. 14, and holds the team’s top score on that event. Additionally, she’s earned the team’s second highest score on floor and has an NQS of 9.840.  

The Baumann sisters not only compete the same events—beam, floor, and occasionally vault—but perform many of the same skills (including a straddle mount on beam and round off one-and-a-half twist to front full on floor). The comparisons are inevitable, and nothing new.     

Though R. Baumann visited Florida for a recruiting visit, the opportunity for individuality that Georgia offered won out: “I felt like I was always in her shadow. ‘Alyssa’s little sister did this. Alyssa’s little sister did that.’” she said. 

“I wanted a chance to make a name for myself, and I think it’s worked out pretty well!”

Article by Claire Billman 

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