It's been a tough week for the Gym Dogs.
Because the Georgia gymnastics squad failed to perform as well as expected in a victory over Kentucky in the team's conference opener, the Red and Black dropped to No. 2 in the national standings. The top spot was taken over by Florida, which travels to Athens on January 27 for a key matchup on the 222nd anniversary of the chartering of the University of Georgia.
In tonight's meet against Arkansas in Fayetteville, the doldrums continued as the Gym Dogs trailed the Lady Razorbacks following the first rotation. On the bars, Georgia posted a 49.025, led by Courtney Kupets's and Tiffany Tolnay's 9.85 marks, but the home team earned a 49.075 in the vault behind Michelle Stout's 9.875 score.
No, not that kind of stout! (Photograph from FlavorActiV.)
The Red and Black claimed the lead in the second stanza when the two squads swapped spots on the floor. Tolnay's 9.925 in the vault paced a 49.3 Georgia effort in the rotation, while Arkansas registered its second straight 49.075 score when no Lady Razorback succeeded in outpacing Emily Peacock's 9.875 mark.
Clinging to a .175-point lead, Suzanne Yoculan's squad entered the third phase of the contest competing in the floor exercise. Tolnay's 9.925 paved the way for the Gym Dogs to put up a 49.275 while Arkansas posted a 48.775 on the beam.
It came down to the final rotation. The Red and Black benefited from Grace Taylor's 9.875 score on the beam, but back-to-back 9.85 marks by the Lady Razorbacks in the floor exercise kept the outcome in doubt. After each team had fielded its first five gymnasts of the rotation, Georgia led, 186.275 to 186.175.
Katie Heenan did what she could on behalf of the Gym Dogs' cause, earning a 9.825 on the balance beam to close out the event for the Red and Black. Peacock could have given the home team the win with any mark over a 9.925 . . . and she fell just short, registering a 9.9 in the floor exercise to allow Georgia to escape the Natural State with a .025-point win.
No, not that kind of peacock! (Photograph from Christians Unite Kids.)
The Gym Dogs have a meet upcoming this Sunday in Raleigh, N.C., against Iowa, N.C. State, and Ohio State, after which they will return to the Classic City to square off with Florida. While I have no doubts about the abilities of the Bear Bryant of women's gymnastics, Coach Yoculan has some work to do if Georgia is to capture a third straight national championship.