ATHENS, Ga. - Highlighted by a perfect performance on bars by sophomore Marissa Oakley, the GymDogs tallied a season-best 198.050 to secure their trip to the NCAA Championships during the NCAA Athens Regional on Saturday night in Stegeman Coliseum.
Oakley is the first GymDog since 1998 to earn a 10 on bars during regionals competition. The sophomore GymDog is also the first Georgia gymnast to manage such a feat since Georgia head coach Courtney Kupets Carter in 2009.
Georgia's score of 198.050 is the highest score for the GymDogs since 2009 at the NCAA Regionals under then-head coach Suzanne Yoculan Leebern.
The GymDogs finished behind the University of Oklahoma Sooners (198.475), who will also advance to the NCAA National Championship in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 19-20.
"We are excited as an entire University of Georgia gymnastics program," Georgia head coach Courtney Kupets Carter said. "There are so many people that work with us and continue to help these athletes reach their goals and their dreams, and that's what is so exciting to me- we're peaking at the right time. There were so many amazing moments, it's hard to describe which one is the best...[Marissa Oakley's 10.000] is so meaningful to me. When I watch the team, I sometimes get more nervous for them than I ever did as an athlete, because I know how much they work, and they are really capable of it. It was great to see them do that tonight. It's amazing to have another 10.000 in this program, and it won't be the last either, and it won't take 10 years to get it again- I can definitely guarantee that."
Georgia opened competition with fierce performances on floor for a 49.550. Junior Sabrina Vega grabbed the GymDogs' highest score of first rotation in the anchor spot, posting a 9.975 to match her career-high. Also matching her career-best was freshman Rachael Lukacs with 9.925, while junior GymDog Rachel Dickson grabbed a 9.900. Senior Sydney Snead and freshman Rachel Baumann each added 9.875.
The GymDogs vaulted themselves to a 49.375, including Snead's 9.950 to lead the event. Lukacs was Georgia's next-leading scorer with 9.900, with Abbey Ward and Vega adding 9.850 apiece. Magee earned a 9.825 to round out the second rotation for the GymDogs.
Georgia secured its highest score of the night on bars with a 49.575 with Oakley's perfect 10 performance highlighting the third rotation. Three GymDogs' earned 9.900 scores for their impressive showings, including freshman Alexa Al-Hameed, Snead and Dickson. Freshman Megan Roberts added 9.875.
Wrapping up competition on beam, Georgia earned a 49.550. The GymDogs notched a leadoff score of 9.800 by Snead followed by a career-high 9.950 from Dickson. Consecutive 9.950 scores by Vega and Baumann, who grabbed her career-high in the event, concluded competition, giving Georgia its final score of 198.050.
Kentucky capped off perhaps the most memorable season in school history with a performance that its record books will retain. The Wildcats scored a program-best 197.600 at the NCAA Regional Final on Saturday in Athens, falling short of extending its postseason run.
"The sudden end of such an amazing season is tough to comprehend at the moment," said head coach Tim Garrison. "This team has challenged itself to improve, and as a result, has set numerous records throughout the season. Tonight was no different. Even though it was not enough to advance, it was a fitting way to send off an amazing group of seniors and a great building block for our program as we look towards next season. This is a fantastic group of young women."
Kentucky began the competition on bars, totaling at least 49.300 for the fifth time this season. Senior Katie Stuart matched a season-high 9.850 on her way to a career-high 39.575 all-around night.
When the Cats moved to balance beam, Stuart tied a career high by securing the team's first 9.900 of the meet. Sidney Dukes followed Stuart with a 9.900 of her own before Alex Hyland tied a season-high 9.925 as the event anchor.
Trailing third-place Cal by three and a half tenths halfway through the contest, Kentucky's floor unit generated momentum with the team's best presentation of the night. All six competitors equaled career-high scores for a sum of 49.600, tying the second-best mark in UK history. Mollie Korth led the way with a 9.950, while Hyland and Dukes each earned a 9.925. Stuart and Ella Warren received a 9.000 apiece after Hailey Poland led off with a 9.875.
Kentucky concluded its 2019 season by tying the program's top vault score of 49.425. Korth tied a career-high 9.950 and shared the individual victory on the event after Stuart notched a 9.925 in the fifth spot of the rotation. Korth's 39.625 all-around total led the team, though Hyland's benchmark of 39.600 was the best of her illustrious career.
The Wildcats produced a 9-14 overall record with a 3-4 tally in the Southeastern Conference. Garrison ended his eighth season at the helm with 98 career wins. Kentucky will send Hyland, Dukes, and Cally Nixon to Forth Worth, Texas for three chances at an individual national title on the weekend of April 19-20.