ATHENS, Ga. -- The No. 8-ranked Georgia gymnastics team will advance to the NCAA Athens Regional Finals after competing to a 197.300 victory over No. 9 Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa State on Friday afternoon in Stegeman Coliseum.
As the top two finishers of today's session, Georgia and Kentucky (196.850) will compete again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Joining them will be top-seeded Oklahoma and No. 16 California.
On vault, Georgia propelled itself to a season-high score of 49.500, with four GymDogs matching their season bests. Senior Sydney Snead and junior Rachael Lukacs each scored a 9.95, with junior Sabrina Vega adding a 9.90. Freshmen GymDogs Mikayla Magee and Abbey Ward capped the event with 9.85 scores apiece.
Georgia had an exciting finish on floor, totaling a 49.325 after Vega earned 10's from two judges to match her career best 9.975. Lukacs was the next-leading scorer with 9.925, and Snead followed with 9.825. Freshman Sami Davis and Dickson performed to scores of 9.80.
"We talked about confidence in the team meeting today, and they really showed that today throughout the meet," Georgia head coach Courtney Kupets Carter said. "I really wanted to bring that to the forefront of their minds because a lot of times they second guess themselves in certain situations. I call that 'trash-talk.' They have to throw it away and remember all of the positive qualities in themselves because they are great, great gymnasts, and they make a very great team. Coming out on vault was absolutely amazing. I know Jason Vonk, our vault coach, has been wanting that 49.500, so we nailed that from the very beginning, and Mikayla [Magee] was a very big part of that being the first athlete up. That is important when it comes to building momentum. She did a fantastic job, and that started off the meet for us."
No. 9 Kentucky's historical 2019 season isn't over yet. On Friday, the Wildcats punched a ticket to Saturday's NCAA Athens Regional Final by way of a 196.850 performance, the second-best NCAA Regional score in program history.
"Not a flawless day, but clean and consistent enough to advance," said head coach Tim Garrison. "We had many gritty performances that saved us valuable tenths and helped us move on. This is a tough group of young ladies. We'll get some rest and be ready for tomorrow."
The Cats began the afternoon on beam, producing a 49.175 total. Junior Mollie Korth was forced to perform her routine twice after an equipment malfunction impeded her original dismount, which ultimately led to one of three individual beam routines of 9.850 or better.
In the next rotation, Kentucky's sum of 49.350 proved to be the best floor performance of the day. Korth and Sidney Dukes led the way with a 9.900 apiece, while Katie Stuart tied a season-high 9.850 and Alex Hyland earned a 9.875.
The Cats' day ended on bars, highlighted by freshman Cally Nixon tying a season-high 9.900. Nixon tied with Georgia's Alex Al-Hameed and Missouri's Morgan Porter for the individual victory on the apparatus. Hyland claimed an outright win with a 39.500 all-around showing.
The 196.625 bettered Mizzou's previous regional record of 196.500, set at the 2010 NCAA Columbia Regional when the Tigers advanced to the NCAA Championships. Missouri also closed the meet with a 49.200 on beam, also a program record.
Redshirt junior Morgan Porter (Overland, Mo.) totaled a 39.475 in the all-around, including a 9.9 on bars, which tied Mizzou's individual program-high on the event in NCAA Regional action.
Mizzou started strong with a 49.225 on floor in the opening rotation. The score extended the team's streak of 49s on floor to 14 straight meets, dating back to last year's regional.
Missouri went a program regional record 49.200 on beam in the final rotation but it was not enough to catch either Georgia or Kentucky.