Head Coach Courtney Kupets Carter had a dilemma when fielding her lineups for the first meet of the 2021 season. Rather than struggling to put six athletes on an event, she had to consolidate her 10 options to six.
“We didn’t have everybody in this one meet, so there’s so much fun to be had with this team and our lineups coming up,” Kupets Carter said.
The increased depth allows for more flexibility when it comes to setting lineups. The coaches can play around with newcomers, give fringe athletes a chance and compensate when others may be out with small injuries.
“We have a lot more depth on pretty much every event. That’s great to see because we can swap out here and there if we need to, and it’s just nice to see everyone getting out there and getting the feel for it again,” junior Rachel Baumann said.
Georgia was one of the many teams that suffered heartbreaking injuries in 2020. Rachel Dickson tore her Achilles before the season began and was unable to compete in her senior year. Amanda Cashman also tore her Achilles on Feb. 13, and Emily Schild was only able to contribute one bar routine.
Although the team is still fighting injuries, the athletes are working their way back and will be lineup ready in a matter of weeks.
“The difference this year is they got injured in the middle of season last year and we lost them for the lineup, and now we actually have athletes getting back their routines and just aren’t quite ready to get back in the lineup right now,” Kupets Carter said.
Freshman Nhyla Bryant is still recovering from shoulder surgery. She is expected to return closer to the end of season on beam and floor. Freshman Katie Finnegan is also coming back from an injury, and is training vault, bars and beam. All-American Rachael Lukacs has a broken finger and her timetable is unknown.
With COVID-19 concerns, teams are focusing on having more athletes train all events due to potential absences. Kupets Carter credits this intra-team competition as a contributor to the improved scoring Georgia saw in its first meet of the season. Particularly on bars, the Gymdogs scored a 49.325 against Missouri Friday night, which is higher than any total on the event from 2020.
“Everybody who can do any event, we’re working it,” Kupets Carter said. “We’re going to get the best routine we can get out of you and just keep progressing from there.”
This contributed to seeing athletes like Alyssa Perez-Lugones make their debut on an event Friday night. The junior competed beam for the first time after exclusively performing on floor in her first two years. Similarly, Abbey Ward was the team’s alternate on the bars.
This season could also see Baumann add bars to her repertoire and compete in the all around for the first time. She has been a consistent contributor on vault, beam and floor for the team throughout her career, but her personal goal this season is to contribute on all four.
“We want to put up the absolute best in the lineup,” Baumann said. “[We’re] just waiting until I get that bar routine down and just see where it takes me. I’m ready whenever they’re ready.”
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Article by Katie Walsh
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