The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2019 Preview – Georgia Bulldogs

Sydney Snead
  • Competed AA every week in 2018
  • Top-2 returning RQS on each event
  • RQS of 9.900 FX, 9.880 VT, 9.875 BB, 9.870 UB
  • Has 10.0 start on VT with Y1.5
Rachel Dickson
  • Competed AA every week in 2018
  • #1 returning RQS on BB (9.885)
  • RQS of 9.895 FX, 9.885 UB, 9.860 BB, 9.840 VT
  • Training 10.0 start Omelianchik VT
Sabrina Vega
  • Anchored BB, FX weekly in 2018
  • #1 returning RQS on both (9.910 FX, 9.875 BB)
  • Filled in on VT for 9.775 RQS but shouldn’t have to in 2019
Marissa Oakley
  • Competed weekly VT, UB, BB in 2018
  • RQS of 9.875 UB, 9.845 BB, 9.790 VT
  • Like Vega, should not have to vault in 2019
Emily Schild
  • Returned from injury to compete 7 UBs, 4 BBs, and 1 VT in 2018
  • Hit 6-for-7 on UB, avg of 9.781 on BB
Alexa Al-Hameed
  • Triad
  • 5th BB, 2018 JO Nationals
Sterlyn Austin
  • Fractured shin
  • Georgia Elite
  • 12th FX, 2018 JO Nationals
Rachel Baumann
  • WOGA
  • 2nd AA, 2017 JO Nationals
Sami Davis
  • North Stars
  • 4th AA, 2017 JO Nationals
Rachael Lukacs
  • North Stars
  • 1st VT, FX – 2018 JO Nationals
  • 10.0-start DTY on VT
Mikayla Magee
  • Pearland Elite
  • 10th AA, 2017 JO Nationals
Alyssa Perez-Lugones
  • Georgia Gymnastics
  • 4th VT, UB – 2018 Region 8s
Megan Roberts
  • Will miss beginning of season with ankle sprain
  • East York
  • 8th AA, 2018 Gymnix
Abbey Ward
  • Orlando Metro
  • 6th VT, 2018 Region 8s
  • Has 10.0-start Tsuk 1/1 VT

2018 – 7th
– 12th
2016 – 6th
2015 – 9th
2014 – 5th
2013 – 6th
2012 – 11th
2011 – 9th
2010 – 13th
2009 – 1st

Thus far, the story for Georgia has been the hacksaw taken to the roster following the 2018 season, trimming all but five essential gymnasts and bringing in as many new people as humanly possible. Kupets apparently took that assignment a little too seriously because she had the baby yesterday. Add her to the roster.

What’s also true amidst this reinvention, however, is that Georgia’s 2019 lineups will probably end up being more familiar than you’re expecting. The five who do return from last season are all multi-event contributors who will deliver over half the routines in 2019, potentially as many as two-thirds if the freshmen take some time to get going.

With all the most important routines returning along with expected lineup upgrades, hopes for Georgia’s 2019 performance are high. Georgia wildly exceeded expectations to finish 7th last season, and this year’s team is categorically better than that team, so why not improve on 7th?

At the same time, Georgia spent most ranking weeks last season languishing in the bad half of the teens. That, more than the final ranking of 7th, reflects the team’s prevailing 2018 quality, so while everyone expects big improvement in 2019, that improvement could come in the form of maintaining a ranking of 7th-9th all season long and jockeying for a spot at nationals.

And that would be a huge improvement. That would be a massive  sign of progress for a team that’s trying to return to the top echelon, though if you go only by final results, it may not seem like much of a change.

VAULT 2019
Lineup locks: Sydney Snead, Rachael Lukacs, Rachel Dickson
Lineup options: Abbey Ward, Megan Roberts, Sabrina Vega, Sami Davis, Marissa Oakley, Mikayla Magee, Rachel Baumann

Vault proved to be Georgia’s weak event in 2018 in both depth and scoring potential, the team ultimately putting up a lineup of two nationally competitive vaults and just hoping to get by with three other scores. Because of those struggles, 2019’s vaulting looks to provide Georgia’s biggest single-event improvement. Rachael DTY Lukacs should become the strongest vaulter in the lineup almost immediately, allowing Sydney Snead and her 1.5 to be among the important vaults, rather than being the entire lineup.

Rachel Dickson will also return. She’s working an Omelianchik in the hope of getting a 10.0 start out there, but she also has that solid Yfull to fall back on should the Omelianchik landing not work out. In the world of new 10.0s, Georgia has brought in Abbey Ward to deliver a Tsuk 1/1 and will hope to get a Y1.5 out of Megan Roberts, though a preseason ankle sprain has inhibited that project and Roberts will miss the beginning of the season. We’ve also seen Mikayla Magee training a 1.5 during preseason, but she did not vault at the First Look. Don’t expect all of these potential 10.0 vaults to pan out in real competition, but a solid chunk of them will, which means Georgia has no business getting stuck in the 49.0s on vault again this year.

Do expect some fulls to be called upon this season as well, of which there will be plenty of additional, backup 9.750-9.800 options that Georgia can use, even if it would prefer not to. Sabrina Vega may be forced to keep vaulting for a while, is what I’m saying.

BARS 2019
Lineup locks: Sydney Snead, Rachel Dickson, Marissa Oakley, Emily Schild
Lineup options: Alexa Al-Hameed, Rachael Lukacs, Megan Roberts

I said it last year, and I think it’s still true, that with those four exceptional lineup locks, bars can be Georgia’s most potent weapon, the place this team gains an advantage even over some of the very best teams. Every member of that Oakley, Dickson, Snead, Schild quartet has the ability to go 9.9 every week. If three of the four actually do it in any given competition, that’s going to be a pretty strong score.

But. Depth. Georgia will not have a ton of options on bars and will have work to do to fill out the lineup with routines that allow the big four to shine. It looks like Alexa Al-Hameed will get into the group with her Anna Li Tkatchev, and Megan Roberts seems the ideal selection to round out the lineup with a level of verticality in her handstands that can make for a very strong NCAA score. While Roberts is out, Lukacs can provide a backup bars routine, though vault and floor are her events and bars isn’t going to be at that same level.

That’s my worry for Georgia’s bars again this season. The team only really needs two new routines for 9.825 to support the big four and secure a strong rotation score, but do those exist? Or are they going to be working against a leadoff 9.7 again?

BEAM 2019
Lineup locks: Sabrina Vega, Sydney Snead, Rachel Dickson, Marissa Oakley,
Lineup options: Emily Schild, Rachel Baumann, Alexa Al-Hameed, Rachael Lukacs, Mikayla Magee

As on bars, Georgia’s beam lineup will predominantly rely upon the returning guard, all of whom excel on beam and should be able to make the lineup again. Vega is the rock, Snead has emerged as the essential leadoff score after not being a sure thing on beam earlier in her career, Dickson has become a vital weekly figure for a possible 9.9, and Oakley may be the most talented of the whole bunch. I placed Schild among the options instead of the locks simply because I believe this lineup has too much competition to have five locked routines, but her beam talent is also very worthy of a spot in the lineup.

So, it’s a familiar group, and the beam scoring potential should be in line with last season, except with the hope that an extra year of experience and comfort for Oakley and Schild allows them to reach their 9.9 potential more often.

For the last spot or two, there should be a legitimate contest. I haven’t mentioned Rachel Baumann yet as we haven’t seen a ton from her in preseason, but you know, good at beam. I’d like to see her in the lineup, and Al-Hameed will present a compelling option here just as she does on bars. Lukacs is an interesting one to watch. She scored exceptionally well on beam in JO for her sturdiness, but there are built-in form deductions. If Georgia is worried about the rest of the lineup hitting, however, she’s your gymnast. I’m also partial to Magee’s beam work from her JO days, so we’ll see if she gets a shot at any potential remaining spots.

FLOOR 2019
Lineup locks: Rachael Lukacs, Sabrina Vega, Sydney Snead, Rachel Dickson
Lineup options: Megan Roberts, Mikayla Magee, Sami Davis, Rachel Baumann, Alyssa Perez-Lugones, Emily Schild

Georgia is in line to improve fairly dramatically this season on floor, where the story is similar to that of vault—a powerful freshman class presents Georgia with access to a fully competitive lineup of six that it did not enjoy last season.

With her DLO, Lukacs is going to provide a massive routine that may rank as the highest floor score on the team, situating herself at the end of the lineup with the three 9.9ers from last season—Vega, Snead, and Dickson—all of whom should return to the lineup.

Expect freshmen to take the remaining spots. A healthy Roberts would seem a straightforward selection since floor was her best event in elite. Magee also delivers a piked full-in, difficulty that could give her an edge in making a lineup, though Sami Davis is a compelling one as well with her twisting ability. I’d rank floor as Davis’s most likely contribution. Perez-Lugones has been competing in preseason with a double pike routine, a set that would have surely made the six last season but that may suffer from the increased depth this year. Georgia will have enough options to spend some time early in the season playing around with which D-pass routines look the most 9.850.

Floor ended up providing Georgia with its best RQS last season (49.290), mostly because of the scores from Vega, Snead, and Dickson. This year, Georgia should be able to bump that total up a tenth or so by having weekly 9.8+s in those first couple spots so that the big scores don’t have low numbers to work against.

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