The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2021 Georgia Bulldogs

Marissa Oakley
  • Competed weekly UB, BB in 2020
  • #2 returning score on UB (9.860)
  • #4 returning score on BB (9.840)
Emily Schild
  • Competed 1 UB in 2020 for 9.675
Sterlyn Austin
  • Competed 2 FX in 2020, avg 9.588
Rachel Baumann
  • Competed weekly BB, 9 FX, 5 VT in 2020
  • #1 returning score on BB (9.895)
  • #3 returning score on FX (9.840)
  • VT avg 9.760
Rachael Lukacs
  • Competed AA in 8 of 10 meets in 2020
  • #1 returning score on FX (9.900), VT (9.890)
  • NQS of 9.760 UB, 9.745 BB
Mikayla Magee
  • Competed weekly BB, 9 VTs, 5 FX in 2020
  • #2 returning score on BB (9.865)
  • #4 returning score on VT (9.820)
  • Avg 9.810 FX
Alyssa Perez-Lugones
  • Competed weekly FX in 2020
  • #3 returning score (9.840)
Megan Roberts

  • Competed weekly UB, 4 FX, 3 VT in 2020
  • #1 returning score on UB (9.865)
  • Avg 9.781 FX, 9.575 VT
Abbey Ward
  • Competed weekly VT in 2020
  • #3 returning score on VT (9.830)
Amanda Cashman
  • Competed 6 UBs, 5 VTs, 2 FX in 2020
  • Avg 9.863 FX, 9.730 VT
  • NQS 9.755 UB
Haley De Jong
  • Competed weekly UB, BB in 2020
  • #3 returning score on BB (9.855), UB (9.815)
Loulie Hattaway
  • Competed 9 UBs in 2020, NQS of 9.800
Soraya Hawthorne
  • Competed weekly VT, FX in 2020
  • Showed 4 BBs, avg 9.781
  • #2 returning score on FX (9.880), VT (9.845)
Nhyla Bryant
  • Raleigh
  • 9th FX, 2019 JO Nationals
Katie Finnegan
  • Apex
  • 6th AA, 3rd UB, 2019 JO Nationals
Victoria Nguyen
  • Everest
  • US Elite – 2014-2019
  • 8th AA, 2014 junior P&G Championships

2020 – 12th
2019 – 8th
2018 – 7th
2017 – 12th
2016 – 6th
2015 – 9th
2014 – 5th
2013 – 6th
2012 – 11th
2011 – 9th

It’s difficult to do a postmortem on 2020 because we don’t know what might have happened had the season been completed, but Georgia did end up ranked quite low by the team’s standards and was likely en route to elimination in the regional final (or getting upset in the regional semifinal after counting a fall on bars, let’s be honest.) Nationals was unlikely to be in the cards. It was not a Georgia-quality season, and I don’t think that statue of Suzanne would be very pleased to hear about a double-digit ranking.

Sabrina Vega – VT, UB, BB, FX

Victoria Nguyen – VT, UB, BB, FX
Katie Finnegan – VT, UB, BB, FX
Nhyla Bryant – VT, FX


Georgia should enjoy a net increase in total routines in 2021, most importantly on bars where some new higher-level options can lift that rotation out of the doldrums and make Georgia less vulnerable to falling out of contention in the first half of conference meets.


2020 Event Ranking: 12

Lineup locks: Rachael Lukacs, Abbey Ward, Katie Finnegan, Mikayla Magee, Soraya Hawthorne
Lineup options: Megan Roberts, Nhyla Bryant, Victoria Nguyen, Rachel Baumann, Amanda Cashman

There’s not too much upheaval in the Georgia vault lineup this year, with only Sabrina Vega’s full departing from last year’s group, which the team should be able to replace without toooo much fuss. Rachael Lukacs will return with her DTY, Abbey Ward will return with her Tsuk full, and the prime potential for new blood comes from Katie Finnegan, who has shown a Yurchenko 1.5 as a Level 10, a vault Georgia will be eager to develop.

To improve on that 12th-place vault ranking from last year, Georgia needs at least one or two of the kinda-sorta-1.5s on this roster to come to fruition. Finnegan has a possibility, Megan Roberts vaulted a few times last season but it was inconsistent for her, and Mikayla Magee has a Jim-and-Pam situation going on with her own 1.5. If those athletes end up having to play it safe and go for fulls, Georgia is looking at a very similar vaulting outlook to last season, but if a few of those 1.5s come through, Georgia can create a nationals-competitive lineup. The best-case-scenario six here looks like Lukacs, Finnegan, Roberts, Ward, Magee, and Hawthorne, but there are a number of other reasonable fulls on the roster, and I expect we’ll see a few of them from time to time.


2020 Event Ranking: 23

Lineup locks: Marissa Oakley, Megan Roberts, Victoria Nguyen, Katie Finnegan, Haley De Jong
Lineup options: Loulie Hattway, Rachael Lukacs, Emily Schild, Amanda Cashman

Georgia’s bars rotation from 2020 can be described only as a harrowing adventure in self-harm.

In several respects, things look better in 2021. Both Victoria Nguyen and Katie Finnegan have buckets of bars talent and are expected to make the lineup, providing upgrades over the rougher routines that had to count last season. If that new duo can join the three cleaner returning routines from Oakley, Roberts, and De Jong, Georgia at least has a five that the team can feel a more comfortable with.

The problem there (besides the fact that five is not six) is the lingering impression left from Georgia’s final bars routine in the 2020 season—Marissa Oakley’s shoulder imploding for 7.800. If Oakley’s shoulder isn’t able to withstand another full season of bars routines, that would leave Georgia too sparse again. The more the team has to rely on the routines beyond that main five this season, the ones that sometimes got 9.800 last year but really should have scored 9.650s, they more likely bars is to remain a weakness.

Of course, Emily Schild also remains on the roster, someone who has the talent to be a major bars score, but she has been able to compete so infrequently these last couple years that I don’t think you can count on anything there.


2020 Event Ranking: 8

Lineup locks: Victoria Nguyen, Rachel Baumann, Mikayla Magee, Haley De Jong, Marissa Oakley
Lineup options: Katie Finnegan, Soraya Hawthorne, Rachael Lukacs

Beam was certainly Georgia’s most aesthetically pleasant event to watch last season, and that trend should continue in 2021. Despite losing the anchor routine from Sabrina Vega, Georgia will introduce Victoria Nguyen to the fold, one of the most talented American beam workers of the last decade. Nguyen should be the score that Vega was. She has the ability to merit 10s.

Rachel Baumann, Mikayla Magee, Haley De Jong, and Marissa Oakley were all quite successful last season and should return to the lineup comfortably (we’ll see if Magee gets a more elevated position because I’d consider her the best beamer of all the returners). That’s an easy five.

Rachael Lukacs served as an effective plug in the lineup last season, though Katie Finnegan can present a competitive option that may snatch the sixth spot, and Soraya Hawthorne’s originality like her kickover from knee makes that a routine you always want to see—and one with higher scoring potential if the consistency is there. There aren’t a ton of beam routines on this roster, but enough viable options exist that Georgia should be able to withstand any unforeseen circumstances and maintain the quality from last season, or upgrade slightly.


2020 Event Ranking: 7

Lineup locks: Rachael Lukacs, Soraya Hawthorne, Megan Roberts, Mikayla Magee
Lineup options: Alyssa Perez-Lugones, Katie Finnegan, Rachel Baumann, Victoria Nguyen, Nhyla Bryant, Amanda Cashman, Haley De Jong, Sterlyn Austin

Floor ranked as Georgia’s most competitive event last season, which promotes confidence in this year’s lineup even though it will most feel the absence of Vega and probably has the haziest picture as to who will actually compete.

Still, Georgia’s roster is full of enough believable routines that something solid should come together. Rachael Lukacs will have the strongest tumbling, Soraya Hawthorne will return to the back of the lineup, and you ideally want those piked full-ins from Megan Roberts and Mikayla Magee in the six regularly. Alyssa Perez-Lugones carved out a nice little 9.8 niche for herself last season that should still be useful to the team this year, and Rachel Baumann was scoring similarly in her appearances.

To some extent, the situation is similar to vault, where if Roberts and Magee can compete consistently with their full difficulty, that suddenly makes Georgia’s opportunity for improvement quite realistic, despite losing Vega.

Plenty of additional options exist to fill out the lineup or replace people as needed, and any of the freshmen could see time. Katie Finnegan is a clean twister with a front 2/1, Victoria Nguyen is Victoria Nguyen as long as she can still floor (which is not a guarantee), and Nhyla Bryant has a competitive repertoire of mid-level difficulty. There’s easily the most opportunity for competitive mixing and matching on this event, which is cause for…non-terror.

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