Sabrina Vega moonwalked her way to a career-high score on beam.
A tradition passed down among Georgia gymnasts, Vega is this year’s GymDog performing the moonwalk, a dance move made famous by the late pop star Michael Jackson. Like the gymnasts before her, Vega does her routine to Jackson’s 1983 hit song “Billie Jean.”
And when she slides into the moonwalk, it always draws a loud applause from the fans at Stegeman Coliseum.
Vega, who once again showed off her moonwalk in No. 15 Georgia’s 197.575-196.725 loss to No. 2 LSU, said it was a no-brainer to take on the move on beam when head coach Courtney Kupets Carter asked her to.
“It’s just a staple movement,” said Vega, who scored a career-best 9.925 on beam Friday night. “It’s continuing history and legacy. I jumped on it – of course I wanted to do it.”
Morgan Reynolds performed the moonwalk on beam last season, which is when Vega realized she wanted to one day do it.
Kupets Carter said Vega was the natural pick for the moonwalk since she is already a good dancer.
“You do have to have some sort of ability to dance to do the moonwalk,” Kupets Carter said. “You can’t just let anybody do it and let it look not great. For her, she’s got that potential for it.”
Vega, a sophomore, got to do the moonwalk in front of former Georgia gymnast Nikki Childs Montgomery, the first to perform the move on beam at Georgia. Montgomery, who competed at Georgia from 2005-08, was in attendance for Friday’s meet against LSU and “Called the Dawgs” before the fourth and final events for each team.
After Montgomery graduated, former head coach Suzanne Yoculan Leebern decided to make the moonwalk a Georgia tradition. Cassidy McComb Bernstein took on the moonwalk after Montgomery. Lindsey Cheek, Mary Beth Box and Reynolds then followed.
“The first time I met (Montgomery), I was so excited and so star struck,” Vega said. “I always think of doing the moonwalk as part of the legacy. It’s just so incredible to see her out there and perform what she started, and continue the legacy of the moonwalk. It’s awesome to get your career high and get you that big score for your team. I’m excited, it was a good night.”
Vega followed her beam routine by tying a career-best on floor with a 9.95. Kupets Carter said Vega appears close to landing a Perfect 10 with her floor routine.
“She’s got the potential for it. She really does,” Kupets Carter said. “There’s just certain things in the routine. She doesn’t have the full control on that first tumbling pass. They’re going to take deductions where they see it. It’s very difficult to get a 10. There are so many teeny pieces of a routine the judges are looking at but she’s definitely got the potential.”
After falling off of the bars a week ago against Florida, freshman Marissa Oakley bounced back with a 9.90 against the Tigers. She also scored a 9.95 on beam.
Kupets Carter said the message for Oakley was to relax and not overthink her routines.
“She said we had to loosen up a little bit,” Oakley said. “I think we were all a little bit, just holding back a little bit. It was important, especially on beam, you can’t be too tight on beam. You have to be relaxed and know you can hit every time.”