Georgia recorded its highest score of the season last week against Utah.
Next week the Gym Dogs begin postseason play at the Southeastern Conference Championships.
But this week Georgia needs to focus on the regular-season finale against a team that doesn’t carry the wow factor of either last week’s or next week’s lineup.
“Every meet and every practice, we try to do better than that last meet and that last practice,” Georgia junior Kaylan Earls said. “There’s still room for improvement, and that’s just what we’re going for, to improve over our last meet and our last practice. We need to do the little things like sticking our landings and making sure our handstands are straight. It’s all about the little things.”
No. 6 Georgia (7-6-1) travels to unranked NC State (11-8-1) to wrap up the regular season at 1 p.m. today at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C. It will be the final meet before the
SEC championships next Saturday in North Little Rock, Ark.
“We just have to do what we’ve been doing in practice,” Georgia junior Lindsey Cheek said. “I don’t think there needs to be any change because what we’ve been doing in practice all along has been getting the job done and that’s what we need to stick to.”
Georgia scored 197.65 points to beat Utah last week and moved to No. 6 in the rankings. But Georgia had problems following up impressive scores in high-profile meets once this season. The Gym Dogs scored 197.5 to beat Alabama for the first time since 2009. Then they fell off of the balance beam five times in the next two meets.
“We’re in a different part of the season now and this team is starting to realize that they’re doing some things that maybe they haven’t done before,” Georgia coach Danna Durante said. “I think they’re starting to realize that they’re capable of a lot more than they originally thought. … They’re believing that there isn’t anything they’re not actually capable of doing just as long as they don’t just use those as words and say them, but that they actually believe that they’re capable of beating anybody in the country.”
Georgia can’t afford to let down against NC State because postseason seeding and momentum heading into the SEC championships are vital for a team that has spent most of the season building confidence in major meets.
“This weekend is really important because it’s going to continue to boost our RQS,” Durante said. “It’s going to put us into a better position going into SECs for seeding. It’s just a much more important meet, whereas in midseason, we could say that about Kentucky but in the back of their minds they didn’t really believe it. We told them that our postseason started against Utah.”
Georgia’s performance against Utah accomplished most of the team’s goals for the day. They scored well, beat a high-ranked opponent and started building momentum for the postseason.
“We really wanted to kick it into fifth gear,” Cheek said. “This late in the season with our routines and stuff, we know we can hit them. There’s no doubt in our mind that we can hit them. I think it’s just kicking up into fifth gear and getting a little bit extra out of our performance and we did that on Saturday. It felt pretty good but we knew we could do it. When they told us we hit 197.65, nobody was shocked. Everybody knew we could do it.”
The biggest change between the regular season and postseason is nitpicking scoring. Athletes should hit the postseason performing at the best, so judges need to identify differences and rank the quality of each performance which draws their attention to the details.
“It’s really important because they (judges) are sticklers about the littlest things,” Earls said. “You make one little step with your foot and they’re going take off for it. It’s really important that we focus on little things like that and zone in on every landing and every handstand because they count so much.”
Georgia at NC State
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Reynolds Arena, Raleigh, N.C.
Records: Georgia is 7-6-1; North Carolina State is 11-7-1.
Rankings: Georgia is No. 6, North Carolina State is unranked.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Georgia: Sophomore Chelsea Davis has been ranked No. 1 in the nation on bars for six straight weeks. Her current average is 9.940 RQS. … Brittany Rogers is tied for No. six in the nation on bars at 9.905. RQS and was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the third time last week. … Shayla Worley is tied for ninth in the nation on balance beam with a 9.89 RQS.
NC State: Stephanie Ouellette scored 39.275 all-around against William & Mary last week. … Diahanna Ham scored career-high 39.25 in all-around against LSU. … Rachel Fincham scored 8.85 to win bars last week against William & Mary.
Series record: Georgia leads 37-0.
Last meeting: Georgia beat North Carolina State 197.375-195.525 last season in Athens.
Seasons at a glance: Georgia set a season high with 197.65 points to beat Utah last week. NC State scored 195.65 to beat William & Mary last week and scored a season-high 196.05 against LSU on Friday.
Noteworthy: This is the final regular-season meet before next week’s SEC Championships. … Georgia has scored the most points on both vault and bars in 10 out of 11 dual meets. … Georgia posted season highs on all four events last week against Utah. … Chelsea Davis has hit 9.9 or higher on bars in nine straight meets. … Noel Couch missed last week with a leg injury but could be available for limited work this week. … Sunday’s meet will be the second of the weekend for North Carolina State. It faces LSU on Friday. … North Carolina State will celebrate its Senior Day on Sunday against Georgia. … North Carolina State set a season high on bars with 49.0 last week. Georgia has not scored lower than 49.025 all season. … NC State started Friday’s meet against LSU with three scores of at least 9.9 on vault.
— Roger Clarkson