Of all the kicks in the teeth Bulldog Nation has endured these last three years, perhaps the worst was last year’s gymnastics loss to Auburn, a program the Gym Dogs had beaten in every previous encounter. On Friday night, the Red and Black sought redemption without the injured Gina Nuccio in the lineup, and the Athenians passed the test with flying colors.
Georgia began the competition on the vault, where a pair of 9.95s from Lindsey Cheek and Hilary Mauro paved the way for a 49.375 score in the first rotation. On the bars, the Tigers amassed a 48.95 tally. When the two teams switched positions for the second stanza, Cheek and Kat Ding carded 9.925s to pace a 48.8 effort for the Gym Dogs on the bars, surpassing the 48.575 total posted by Auburn on the vault and giving the Athenians a 98.175-97.525 edge at the midpoint.
The Bulldogs were on the balance beam in the third rotation, where Cheek, the newcomer and Athens native, led the way with a 9.85. Georgia’s 49.05 in the event outpaced Auburn’s 48.9 in the floor exercise, allowing the Red and Black to extend their lead to 147.225-146.425.
The Gym Dogs closed out the evening on the floor with a 49.425 score to boost their overall total for the meet to 196.65. Cheek’s 9.825 brought her all-around mark for the evening to 39.55, outdistancing the 38.8 posted by teammate Noel Couch, the 38.75 notched by the Tigers’ Petrina Yokay, and the 38.45 put up by fellow Georgia gymnast Cassidy McComb. On the beam, Auburn pieced together a 48.55 tally, bringing the Alabamians’ final output to 194.975.
Georgia posted 18 scores of 9.8 or better over the course of the meet, including seven of 9.9 or above. All five of the marks counted by the Red and Black in both the floor exercise and the vault equaled or exceeded 9.8. As with Monday’s meet against West Virginia, the Gym Dogs’ opponent posed less of a challenge than the lofty standards of the program the Athenians represented, and, for the second time this week, the Red and Black met the expectations their prior success has placed upon them.