It is a rare thing, indeed, for the Georgia gymnastics squad to go into a meet as the lower-ranked squad, but, then, facing top-ranked Gator teams has been a fact of life for the Bulldogs in numerous sports for several years, so the Red and Black did not truly find themselves in unfamiliar territory when the Gym Dogs arrived at Stegeman Coliseum as the No. 2 team in the land to take on No. 1 Florida.
Suzanne Yoculan's squads have been 7-0 against top-ranked teams in regular-season meets since 1992 and the 2007 Georgia team went into the first rotation determined to make it eight in a row. Katie Heenan and Tiffany Tolnay each earned 9.95 marks on the vault, pacing a Red and Black effort that gave the Gym Dogs a 49.45-49.4 edge after the Orange and Blue had completed their turn on the bars.
Florida posted another 49.4 score in the second rotation, putting up solid numbers in the vault on the strength of 9.9 marks by Ashley Reed and Katie Rue. Georgia's effort on the bars was hampered by Marcia Newby's fall, so the Gym Dogs registered only a 49.225 despite Grace Taylor's career-high 9.925.
No, not that Grace!
The home team went back on the offensive in the third stanza, where Courtney Kupets recorded a 9.95 mark on the beam on the way to a 49.325 team score in the event. Florida's floor exercise fell somewhat short of matching the Gym Dogs' effort, as the visitors concluded the rotation with a 49.15 tally.
It was anyone's meet heading into the final portion of the contest. Heenan and Tolnay earned identical 9.925 marks in the floor exercise to give the Red and Black a 49.25 score to offset Florida's performance on the beam. Five Orange and Blue gymnasts received scores of 9.825 or better on the beam, the event in which the Gators have the country's highest overall average. The visitors' performance in the final event gave Florida a 49.3 tally, but Tolnay's concluding score allowed Georgia to snarl the meet in a 197.25-all tie.
The deadlock was the Gym Dogs' first since the 2002 Regionals against Stanford and it came before a record crowd. While a tie was not anyone's goal, Georgia's gritty performance in the face of adversity, particularly in the absence of Kelsey Ericksen, kept the Red and Black unbeaten and ran the two-time defending national champions' record to 6-0-1 overall and 2-0-1 in conference meets heading into next Friday's meet against L.S.U. in Baton Rouge.