(Author's Note: My apologies go out to those of you who arrived here expecting coverage of Georgia's important baseball game against Arkansas on Sunday afternoon, or of Georgia's even more important basketball game against Arkansas on Sunday afternoon, but I have been under the weather for much of the weekend and, as soon as I finish posting my previously-written account of Saturday's gymnastics meet, I am off to bed.)
In the meantime, since I don't quite know how properly to celebrate a milestone Bulldog basketball has not achieved since the year I saw the Police play at the Omni during the "Synchronicity" tour, I suppose I should congratulate Dennis
"The Clothes Horse" "The F-Bomb" Felton and his team, thank the Kentucky faithful for their kind and classy compliments, express my concern about the mind-reading powers of Georgia's first-round tournament opponent, and leave it at that.
Following Courtney Kupets's season-ending injury, the Gym Dogs failed to bring their "A" game in last week's loss to Michigan, which caused some concerns heading into Saturday's meet with No. 10-ranked U.C.L.A. However, Suzanne Yoculan's squad answered our current poll question decisively and emphatically in a 197.9-196.875 victory over the Bruins.
Georgia served notice early that a very good U.C.L.A. squad was in for a real fight. A 9.925 by Katie Heenan and 9.95s by Cassidy McComb and Tiffany Tolnay guided the Red and Black to a 49.55 mark on the vault in the first rotation, well out in front of the 49.025 posted by the Bruins on the bars, despite 9.9s from Ana Li and Tasha Schwikert.
Unsurprisingly, the Bruins battled back in the second rotation, in which Tasha Schwikert's 9.925 in the vault gave the visitors an overall 49.275 to outpace the 49.225 put up by the Gym Dogs on the bars on the strength of Tolnay's 9.9.
I expected no less.
The Red and Black surged ahead once more in the third rotation when Heenan's 9.95 and Grace Taylor's 9.975 on the balance beam led to a cumulative 49.4 tally. Once again, this put the home team well ahead of the Bruins, who earned a 9.9 from Ashley Jenkins and a 9.925 from Jordan Schwikert on the way to a combined 49.275 in the floor exercise.
Coach Yoculan's team took its game to a new level in the floor exercise during the fourth rotation. Solid scores from McComb (9.925), Tolnay (9.95), and Heenan (9.975) were overshadowed by Courtney McCool's perfect 10.0 to earn the Gym Dogs a 49.725 mark that exceeded substantially the 49.3 received by U.C.L.A. after Kristina Comforte and Tasha Schwikert each posted a 9.9 on the beam.
Not only was this a solid win, it was a statement win, one that communicated loudly and clearly the Gym Dogs' seriousness about capturing another national championship. A team coming off of a flat effort following the loss of one of its star competitors simply does not go out there and dismantle a team as solid as U.C.L.A. in this manner. This was more than just revenge for last year's loss; this team is getting geared up for another N.C.A.A. title run.