Hello from Stegeman Coliseum! This may be the meet I’ve been most looking forward to all year, and not just because my parents went to UGA and UNC.
Georgia head coach Courtney Kupets-Carter has been at the program’s helm since early May 2017. Who was the previous head coach? None other than Carolina’s new head coach Danna Durante. A solid performance in Athens would be a fantastic way to cap off what’s already been an impressive debut season (and an upset victory would be epic).
The stakes of this meet are higher than just bragging rights, however. The Tar Heels are right smack dab in the middle of that precarious No. 29 through No. 43 zone, and they’ll need at least one more 196-plus score to secure a regionals berth. Even with freshman standout Lali Dekanoidze sidelined with a knee injury, that number is attainable (especially if the same judges from last week’s meet against Mizzou are on deck).
Take note that it’s Senior Night, so scoring will almost certainly be *ahem* celebratory. And what a senior class Georgia will be celebrating: Rachel Baumann, Rachael Lukacs, Mikayla Magee, Alyssa Perez-Lugones, Megan Roberts, Emily Schild and Abbey Ward. During what has arguably been the most tumultuous period in the Gymdogs’ storied legacy, they’ve somehow managed to write a memorable chapter of their own.
I just remembered right this second that UGA’s Amanda Cashman and UNC’s Jenna Cashman are sisters. Always love a sibling rivalry meet!
Looks like Georgia gave all of the Tar Heels’ seniors a bouquet of flowers, too.
Rotation One: Georgia vault, North Carolina bars
Cashman (UGA): Y full, very clean in the air with a slight pike down. A bit underrotated and steps forward. 9.750
Shearer (UNC): Well done first handstand to blind change. Pretty straddled Jaeger but close on the regrasp. Rushes the handstand to bail. Archy DLO with a tiny hop forward. 9.800
Magee (UGA): Excellent Y 1.5. Good height, tight form, just a crossover step. 9.850
Greene (UNC): Slightly short on the first handstand. Great full pirouette. Low Tkatchev, but works through. Gorgeous, intentional final handstand. FTDT was great, small hop forward. 9.800
Ward (UGA): Solid Tsuk full, nearly stuck. Good form, but went up instead of out, very close to the table. 9.875
Greenlow (UNC): Lovely handstand. Slight leg sep on both the Gienger and the bail. EXCELLENT blind change to tucked double Arabian, nailed the landing. 9.750
Hawthorne (UGA): Giant Y full, big hop back on the landing. 9.825
Knower (UNC): Great first handstand. Big Gienger with leg sep. Clean bail, good body tension. Excellent final handstand. HUGE FTDT, definitive stick. 9.825
Baumann (UGA): Y 1.5, blocked really far up on the table. Slightly soft knees, but tons of height and distance. Large, bounding step forward. 9.825
Schaefer (UNC): Great first handstand. Fantastic blind change to straddled Jaeger. A little crooked on her clear hip and bail from my view, but good body tension and control on both so judges might not notice. Another pretty much perfect stuck FTDT. 9.850
Roberts (UGA): WOW! Y 1.5, college stick. One of the best (and cleanest) I’ve seen her do. 9.900
Culton (UNC): Pretty Tkatchev, a little low. Almost overarched the handstand on her bail, but pulled it back. Lovely stalder to high double tuck, stuck.
AFTER ONE ROTATION: GEORGIA 49.275, NORTH CAROLINA 49.150
Solid, if not top-notch rotation for either team. This was one of the more dynamic and cleaner vault rotations I’ve seen from Georgia this season, though they gave up several tenths from the landings. Roberts’ vault was the best of the bunch (with Hawthorne’s not far behind), and a great way for her to close out her career at Stegeman.
The Tar Heels series of stuck landings was exactly what they needed to hang with the Gym Dogs heading into vault, one of their weaker events, vault.
Rotation Two: Georgia vault, North Carolina bars
Greene (UNC): Y full, moderate pike down and a small hop back. 9.725
Ward (UGA): Good first handstand. Big form break on her Maloney and bail. Very nice final handstand. Lovely DLO in the air with a well-finessed college stick. 9.850 is a touch high, but it’s Senior Night so whatever. Great routine .
Schaefer (UNC): Great Y tucked full with a small hop to the side. Really high amplitude and good distance. 9.775
De Jong (UGA): Great height on her Tkatchev, a little close on the regrasp. Short on the next handstand. Bail looked good. Another very pretty-in-the-air DLO, basically stuck. 9.850
Summey (UNC): BIG Y full. Significant leg sep on the preflight and the tiniest of hops. Big hug from AC Hundley. 9.775
Finnegan (UGA): Lovely handstand to Ray. Gets hung up on her next handstand. Significant break on the Pak, catches very close but powers through. FTDT with chest down and a hop forward. 9.750
Shinohara (UNC): Another powerful Y full. Some pike down and a slide back on the landing. 9.750
Schild (UGA): Beautiful toe-on to a big Ray. Lost a bit of form and tension in her bail. Low DLO with a large lunge forward. Not sure if she put her hands down. 9.125
Knower (UNC): MASSIVE Y full with a large hop back. Very similar to Hawthorne’s. 9.775
Roberts (UGA): Great kch. Very minor leg sep on her Maloney. A little overarched on her bail to handstand, but brought it back easily. Perfect DLO with her arms flared out, stuck. 9.850
Weil (UNC): Fhs front pike. Slightly tucked the second salto and a college stick. 9.725
Nguyen (UGA): Blind change to piked Jaeger, great. A little close on her Pak, straight to the switch kip. High DLO with a small hop forward. APL almost knocked her down with a hug tackle. 9.900
Hattaway (UGA): Exh. Half pirouette to Gienger with leg sep. Bail a little loose. Nice DLO with some leg sep and a hop forward.
AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: GEORGIA 98.475, UNC 97.950
Not a bad bars rotation for the Gym Dogs. I wish there were a little more separation in the scores, but nothing egregious. Too bad about Schild’s fall, because there were some really gorgeous moments up to that point.
The Tar Heels made it through with a respectable vault score, though the bouncy landings ate up several tenths that may come into play later on. Knower’s was the highlight for me, even with the large hop.
Rotation Three: Georgia beam, North Carolina floor
Magee (UGA): Straight jump to straddle half, very fluid. Obviously don’t know how she’s feeling, but she’s radiating calm. Bhs bhs loso, well-controlled. Lovely full turn. Back 1.5 with a large crossover step. Great lead-off (and send-off) for Magee. 9.875
Nam (UNC): Nice, high double pike to open, slight knee bend and small front foot slide. Fhs to Rudi, well done. Switch half to wolf half, good height on both. Back 1.5 to front full, riiiight on the line. I have no clue whether or not she stayed in. 9.800
Hawthorne (UGA): Bhs loso, great extension. Switch split jump series, no problems. The Hawthorne to wolf jump, rock solid. Back 1.5 with a small hop. Arguably her best routine of the season. 9.825
St. Brice (UNC): Back 1.5 to front lay, good punch. Wolf 1.5, just shy of horizontal but got it around. Switch full series, front leg a touch low on both. Big double pike, chest down and a front foot slide. 9.850
Schild (UGA): Press handstand mount, lovely. Wish we saw more of those. Front aerial to bhs bhs, slightly soft knees but very smooth tempo. Slight correction on the full turn, covered well. Split leap series, well done. Beat to side aerial to full, smallest hop forward. 9.800
Greenlow (UNC): Fantastic opening double pike. Switch half to wolf half, a little overrotated. Front through to back 2.5, great form in the air. Back 1.5 to front lay, excellent. 9.875 is fine as long as this scoring energy is the same for Georgia.
Nguyen (UGA): Onodi to bhs, very deliberate and clean. Y turn to full turn, maybe a clever improvisation? The Y looked a little out of control to me. Side aerial to back full, great.
Culton (UNC): Gorgeous double tuck to open. Switch ring to switch side, very crisp and precise. Front lay to Rudi, stuck with a lunge out to show off. Love it. Switch side to straddle half, perfectly horizontal. That’s got to go 9.9-plus. 9.900 on the nose.
De Jong (UGA): Slight waver on her full turn. Switch leap to split jump, beautiful. Front aerial to straddle, nicely done. Bhs loso, solid. Side aerial to a stuck full. 9.950
Knower (UNC): HUGE double pike, wow. Fhs full to front lay, good rise on the latter. Back leg was a touch low on her switch full. Big double tuck to close, minor front foot slide. Great routine. 9.900
Baumann (UGA): Pretty straddle mount. Side aerial to loso, gorgeous. Full turn initiated from the knee, my favorite. Beat jump to switch side, slightly crooked? Could be my angle. Back 1.5 landed on her toes, almost hung on for the stick but took a step. She’s laughing about it, it’s fine. 9.850
Weil (UNC): Powerful open double tuck with a large slide back. punch full to front lay, excellent. Popa series, good position. Nailed her double pike. She is such an aggressive gymnast, just goes hard on everything (including the dance) and I LOVE it. 9.825
AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: GEORGIA 147.800, UNC 147.300
OK, it’s unlikely that UNC is going to close a half point gap with Georgia heading to floor (but not impossible). However, after a season high floor rotation they’re poised for a very nice away score even with a middling beam score, which will only help the Tar Heels’ postseason prospects.
Georgia looked pretty darn good on beam! They’ve officially left the early season unpleasantness in the rearview mirror, bless, and are in good shape to break 197 for the first time this season. Not a bad way to close out the regular season and send off their seniors.
Rotation Four: Georgia floor, North Carolina beam
Summey (UNC): Bhs loso, beautifully done. She’s so reliably calm and steady. Quick but controlled full turn. Beat to straddle 3/4, great. Cat leap to side somi, solid. RO back 1.5, maybe stuck? My view was obscured by a swarm of celebrating Tar Heels. 9.825
Perez-Lugones (UGA): HIGH double pike, small foot slide. Whip half to front lay, very nice. Switch side to Popa, good position on both. A huge double tuck to close, opened a tad early and had to take a step forward. She truly is one of the most joyful floor workers out there. 9.925… OK
Shearer (UNC): Really pretty full turn. Bhs loso with slight softness on the latter and a tiny waver. Front toss with a large break as the crowd went nuts for APL’s score. Switch leap to switch side, good. One-armed front walkover to gainer full; slow connection, but I think will be credited. 9.675
Magee (UGA): Good FTDP, cest down. Switch half to Popa, nicely done. Back 1.5 to front lay, just a touch underrotated and steps back. Fantastic double pike to finish. 9.850
Greenlow (UNC): Love her should stand to straddle mount. Good full turn. Bhs loso with a small hip check. Cat leap to side aerial and she comes off. Too bad. Switch leap series to beat jump, good position. RO back 1.5 a little wonky on the take-off, but held on for the stick. 9.175
De Jong (UGA): Back triple twist with leg crossing, but got it all the way around. Switch side to wolf full, nice height on both. High and tidy double tuck, very secure landing. Back 1.5 to front lay, a little flat. Overall, very good routine. 9.850
Nam (UNC): Bhs loso, flawless (and I don’t use that word often). Switch leap to switch side, great. Side aerial, solid. Kicked out full turn. Drilled her RO back 1.5. Maybe the strongest beam routine of the night. 9.875 is too low.
Roberts (UGA): Front through to double pike, good control. Switch half to Popa to wolf full, big air on all three. A bit wild on her double pike, kicked her back leg up out of the landing. 9.850
Culton (UNC): Beautiful straddle mount. Bhs to a floaty loso, small foot adjustment. Cat leap to switch side, lovely. Front aerial to beat, great. Kicked out full turn. Side aerial to full, smallest hop back. 9.900
Baumann (UGA): Kicks open the door, now the drum solo. Back 1.5 to front full, perfect. Switch half to straddle that practically touched her ears. Opened up early on the double pike, chest way down and took a big step forward. 9.825
Knower (UNC): Bhs loso, fantastic. Her usual great front toss. Beat to switch half, beautiful. Back 1.5, DRILLED the landing and is immediately consumed by the team. 9.900
Hawthorne (UGA): Getting to watch Hawthorne do the Rerun dance alone is worth the price of admission. Giant double pike, landing isn’t an issue today. Switch full series, nice amplitude and position. Front lay to Rudi to split jump, a bit low from the get-go. 9.900
AFTER FOUR ROTATIONS: GEORGIA 197.100, UNC 196.475
OK, so Georgia got their 197 and the Tar Heels get a strong away score that will go a long way towards getting them over the Regionals bubble. My biggest takeaway from today is that this UNC team can consistently break 196 even without Dekanoidze.
VT: Megan Roberts, 9.900
UB: Victoria Nguyen, 9.900
BB: Haley De Jong, 9.950
FX: Alyssa Perez-Lugones, 9.925
AA: Julia Knower, 39.400
Live blog by Claire Billman
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